Review - A Reluctant Warrior, Kelly Brooke Nicholls
There's something especially sobering about crime fiction that is obviously set in such a real, contemporary and frightening scenario. A RELUCTANT WARRIOR takes the reader right into the middle of Columbia's drug wars. It takes the reader into the world of a young woman who is trying to avoid rape, murder, torture and degradation, while she also tries to keep those left in her small family alive - after the paramilitaries and the drug cartel's have already unleashed havoc upon them.
As the blurb says, the story and the characters in A RELUCTANT WARRIOR are fictitious, but the author has used her experience as a human rights activist in Columbia for many years, the events she witnessed and the interviews with victims of paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug cartels as a basis. Needless to say there are points in this book when nobody is a hero, and it appears that there's no-one capable of behaving decently - other, of course, than Luzma and the man who she loves.
Having heard a little in the past about the drug cartels development of smuggling submarines it was fascinating to see that built into this book - it seems from the notes that follow at the end of the book this really is a thing - showing the lengths that people will go to just to make money for themselves. Can't help but wonder what a fabulous place this world would be if everybody would devote that sort of effort to solving problems - rather than generating even more, but then human nature might be something to be proud of, but there are days when you feel like you're going to have to dig very deep to find the good bits. If you have any doubts about that at all - then I'd suggest you read the statistics on the final page of this book.
Needless to say there's a lot of confronting aspects to A RELUCTANT WARRIOR. The story of what happens to innocent people caught up in these situations - where everybody around them is fighting for position, monetary wealth and power, and nobody seems to give a damn about anything other than their warped ideology or desires has resonance throughout the world at the moment. You can't help but wonder what everybody is going to do when the "money" and the "power" run out.
When Luzma’s brother Jair unwittingly uncovers the plan by Colombia’s most notorious drug cartel to smuggle an unprecedented cocaine shipment into the US, it puts their family in grave danger.
Jair’s kidnapping by the cartel, forces Luzma to go face to face with vicious paramilitary leader, El Cubano, and General Ordonez, ruthless head of the military – men who will stop at nothing to protect their empires. But for Luzma, nothing is more important than saving her family – not even her own life.
While the story and characters in A Reluctant Warrior are fictitious, they are based on events Kelly Brooke Nicholls witnessed first-hand while living and working in Colombia. During this time, she interviewed thousands of victims of paramilitaries, guerrilla and drug cartels. She knows Buenaventura, where the novel is set, intimately, including the most notorious neighborhoods where foreigners rarely venture. She worked closely with the former Andean Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration to help her realistically map the events in this novel.
Now her gripping novel of one young woman’s terrifying encounter with Colombia’s most notorious drug cartel gives readers a rare glimpse into Colombia’s drug wars and their impact on ordinary citizens.