Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Missionary: Review

455697: The MissionaryThe Missionary

By William Carmichael & David Lambert

American missionaries David and Christie Eller run a clinic for homeless children in Caracas, Venezuela. But when an angry David publicly rails against the government, he falls into an unimaginable nightmare of espionage. Will his life-or-death gamble to escape the country with his wife and son succeed---or will the resources of a corrupt dictatorship prevail? 300 pages, softcover from Moody.

The Missionary is a debut novel for Bill Carmichael and the fourth for his co-author Dave Lambert. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Dave since joining ChiLibris, but didn't know anything about Bill. Then I went to CBE. While there, I stopped at the Barbour booth and started talking to this vaguely familiar looking man seated on one of their comfy couches. Turns out he was Bill Carmichael.

It was so fun to chat with him about this book, its journey and the co-writing process. I've always wondered about the process co-authors use. For Bill, he'd written and rewritten the book until he couldn't see it anymore. Then an editor read it and made some suggestions. That editor was Dave Lambert. Bill asked if Dave would be interested in working on the book with him. From that question the partnership was birthed, and this book finished.

The Missionary is the story of David Eller, an American missionary in Venezuela. He's worked with the poor street children long enough to be frustrated. He feels like all their efforts are only a drop in the bucket, and has been vocal with his frustrations. Then he's given the opportunity to do something more. And that decision ends in a desperate, life-or-death gamble to flee the country with his wife and son.

The Missionary
starts with the pacing of a South American afternoon then pulses to a heart-stopping race to escape the country. When David is approached to participate in an attack at the problem rather than the symptoms, he's torn. He works at Hope Village with his wife and son and a missionary couple he loves. At the same time he's wrestling with what to do, operatives sneak into the country...and that's all I'm going to tell you because I don't want to spoil the book for you.

Instead, let me just say this book pulls you into the colorful setting of Venezuela. As I read, I could see, smell, and taste the Venezuelan countryside and experience. I also felt swept into the action and conflict with and between David and his wife Christine. She wants him to work below the government's radar, and he's so focused on doing something he looses focus.

Who hasn't felt frustrated by a systematic problem? Wondered what the right response is? Been tempted to go off the reservation? After setting the scene (which takes awhile to get all the characters in place), this book has the pacing of a thriller with all the international twists and turns you want.

If you like books filled with questions, foilable characters, and a plot that keeps you guessing until the end, then try this one. You won't be disappointed.

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