Heart of Diamonds
Heart of Diamonds implicates an American televangelist, the President of the Congo, and the American White House in a diamond smuggling scheme that leads to U.S. military involvement in the Congo’s civil war. TV journalist Valerie Grey uncovers the conspiracy and tries to expose it before America is drawn fully into the endless war. Powerful forces—a ruthless mercenary, the Congolese army, and cold-blooded agents sent by the White House—try to stop her in a magnificent chase along crocodile-infested rivers, overland through raging gun battles, and into the sky in armed helicopters. A big romantic love triangle propels the main characters and adds depth to the book.
The intricate story opens as, passed over for a promotion in New York, Valerie Grey takes an assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the brutal civil war is escalating and rebel assaults are increasing. After surviving an artillery attack in the capital, Valerie meets an American doctor who operates a small clinic in a remote part of the country. She learns that an American televangelist has recently bought the local diamond mine, once nationalized by the Congolese government.
Intrigued by the notion of a church running a diamond mine, Valerie and her crew travel to the distant village to investigate. She is appalled by the conditions endured by the mine workers. There is evidence of torture. They are forced to live in a virtual prison, with no freedom to visit their families. The missionary who oversees the mine is strangely unsympathetic to the plight of the workers, and that of the many orphaned children who survive only because of the small clinic in the village.
Her suspicions deepen when she sees the women of the village making small dolls out of scraps of cloth and stuffing them with a special “American filling.” Armed guards watch over the women. Each doll must be logged twice as it is completed. The level of security surrounding such trinkets is beyond her understanding. That is, until she discovers what is in the “American filling,” and where the dolls are sent.
When the US president announces that thirty thousand American troops will go to the Congo to protect American interests, Valerie knows she must tell the world what “interests” the president means.
The novel comes to its tragic climax as Valerie and her crew, the American doctor and several children desperately flee rebel soldiers, the diamond mine’s mercenaries and US agents sent to kill Valerie. Heart of Diamonds is a fast-paced thriller and heartbreaking romantic adventure set in one of the world’s most unfortunate countries.
Dr. Jaime Talon sliced into the boy’s cheek where the corrupted flesh festered just below the eye. When he pierced the skin with the lancet, a thin, clear fluid dribbled from the incision. He applied a little pressure with the flat of the blade and was rewarded with a gush of viscous brown pus. The boy flinched each time the knife touched his face, but that was his only reaction. Jaime guessed he was no more than fourteen. He placed a gauze pad over the weeping incision and told the boy to hold it there while the wound drained. With antibiotics and constant attention, the infection could be kept out of the eye, he thought. The antibiotics would come from the clinic’s nearly empty medicine locker; Jaime didn’t know who would attend to the dressing when the boy returned to the Lunda Libre guerillas who held him in the mopane forest of the Congo highlands.
“What is your name?” Jaime asked.
“Christophe,” the boy answered. His voice was high and tight with tension. He cleared his throat quietly, asthough he were afraid to disturb Jaime’s concentration. Jaime put the lancet down and smiled gently, hoping to
calm the boy’s fears.
“Would you like to stay here for a few days?” he asked. The boy shook his head slowly and looked down.
“What if I give you food? Enough to take some back for the others?” Christophe shrugged but shook his head again, glancing furtively at the armed figure waiting for him near the trail at the edge of the forest. Even from a distance, Jaime could see the man’s eyes constantly shifting from the boy to the road and back to the trail leading into the forest.
“You must stay at least for tonight so the wound can drain. I will speak to him. Stay here and do not remove the pad.” Jaime locked his meager tray of surgical instruments inside a cabinet to remove temptation, then walked purposefully across the clearing to the gunman, keeping his hands out of his pockets and in full sight. He stopped a few feet away when the rebel shifted his weight from one foot to the other and casually pointed his rifle at Jaime’s stomach.
“The boy will stay with me tonight,” he declared firmly, trying to forestall any argument.
“No, dakta bandia,” the man replied with a sneer.