J.M. Windle’s Betrayed is a complex thriller in which terrifying situations of international proportions demand courage that can only come from God. Vicki Andrews comes to Guatemala expecting just another business trip and maybe a visit with her sister, but she gets tangled in a dangerous web of murder, secrets, lies, and smuggling. When it seems like there is no one else around her she can trust, Vicki must learn to trust God.
After beginning with a flashback, Betrayed follows Vicki’s experiences from her plane ride to Guatemala onward. Occasionally, Windle steps away from Vicki and gives the reader vague, somewhat confusing glimpses into the behind-the-scenes operations of other characters. These segments foreshadow future discoveries and allow the reader to know a little more than Vicki does about what’s going on. Some of the more explanatory dialogue and paragraphs may be a little difficult to read, because they include technical and political information that some readers might not be very familiar with. The intense events and intriguing plot keep the story moving at a brisk pace, with occasional breathers of reflection. Vicki and the other characters are connected by their pasts in more ways than they know. It is the intertwining of their relations in the past that lead to the chaotic events of the present.
Vicki is only in Guatemala for a short time before her sister Holly’s surprising murder leads Vicki on what seems to be a wild goose chase. The more Vicki investigates the suspicious dealings surrounding her sister’s demise, the more she realizes that her sister might have uncovered some dangerous secrets about some of Guatemala’s powerful leaders and their American liaisons. When Vicki spends a few weeks at the Wildlife Rescue Center where Holly spent her last months, she begins to better understand the people and environment that played important roles in her sister’s life and death. Exposed lies and new discoveries keep the truth concealed and the plot thickening until Vicki is finally able to sort it all out, but not without dangerous consequences.
Vicky has a passion for the lost and hurting children of third world countries. However, she has a cynical outlook on the world and doesn’t think God really cares about people, because of all of the bad things she has seen. She is a workaholic who tries to do everything herself. She doesn’t remember the first several years of her life when her birth parents were alive, but discovers more about that part of her past throughout the novel.
Vicki’s sister, Holly, was a tree-hugger finishing her veterinarian residency at a wildlife center in Guatemala. Her curiosity and determination to protect the wildlife she so loved ultimately lead to her death when she overturned a nest of suspicious evidence. Skeptical and practical Vicki learns why Holly cared so much about God and His creation after her sister’s death.
Evelyn, the caring, elderly leader of Casa de Esperanza, Vicki’s Guatemalan assignment, shows Vicki God’s love and gives her important advice. Bill, a wealthy, kind, but secretive American living in Guatemala, and Cesar, a Mayan veterinary student who worked with Holly, befriend and help Vicki. Throughout the novel, Vicki’s attention is often divided between Michael, a confident, courteous, and powerful attaché from the American embassy, and Joe, a more-than-meets-the-eye surfer/wanderer/handyman who works for Bill. Vicki’s new acquaintances are not all they seem to be, and she has a hard time figuring out who she can really trust.
Betrayed is an intense, interesting story that exposes some of the harsh realities in the world beyond the borders of the United States. The background information is thick and may be difficult to grasp at some points, but is easy to pick up once the story gets moving. Fans of mysteries and international thrillers will greatly enjoy this book. -- Laura Coulter, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump. Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly. With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?
Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?
A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.