I am so glad my library had this book. I was looking for a good female lead action/adventure series, and I think I have found one with Emma Cauldridge. I liked that while Emma makes a very good action heroine, she starts out as an everyday type of woman and doesn't unrealistically turn into Rambo Jane. Her skill set qualified her for saving the day when placed in an incredible situation. While there are plenty of tough guys in this book, they don't overshadow Emma's opportunity to be heroic.
The setting of rural rainforest Colombia simmers. Freveletti vividly captures the sights, sounds, feel, and smells of the environment to a very visceral degree. I felt like I was there in the jungle with Emma and the hostages. I really dislike hot weather and humid environments, so I was sympathetically miserable with Emma and the other passengers. On top of that was the callous disregard for life and the cruelty of the paramilitaries and drug cartel members. Because they were so awful, it made me root for Emma even more. Their tendency to dismiss those they feel are weaker and to abuse them actually backfired when they met Emma and Sumner.
The story builds very satisfactorily. It hits the ground running and like Emma, the reader is forced to adapt and react to the situation. At first, you don't quite understand why the plane goes down and how it relates to the guerrillas, and what Emma's role is. As you keep reading, those questions get answered, and it's only near the end, you really find out why Emma is in Colombia at all, and that was quite cool as well.
This is a good book for readers who enjoy characters who have to survive on the land and live by their wits. Emma definitely holds her own, and I loved how Emma exploits her background as a chemist with a background in the therapeutic properties of plants. There is a good message here about brain versus brawn. The strongest, most vicious don't always win the war. Endurance and resilience often win the race, which really works for this book, since Emma is an endurance runner and a scientist, trained both to survive in harsh circumstances and to use her brain.
I enjoyed the secondary characters, such as Sumner, Edward Banner and Carol Stromeyer, Miguel, and of course the German Shepherd Boris, among others, who add texture to this novel. While the villains are not quite as developed, they are not cardboard. Freveletti is unafraid to show humans at their worst, but I like that she doesn't lay on the gory descriptions. The action is fierce and descriptive enough not to rely on gore. It's sad enough to think of those hostages being forced to hike through the jungle and abused when they don't have the stamina of their native counterparts. Although I admit I loved the scene where Emma uses maggots to heal up a festering wound on another character. My love of medicine and natural remedies held me captive in reading of Emma's ingenuity with using what the rainforest provides liberally to help others and herself.
This was a fun, exciting book that I finished in less than 24 hours. That should tell how much I enjoyed it. The writing flows and keeps the reader's interest. And the action sequences are frequent and well-plotted. While there are no info-dumps, I felt that the author definitely did her research, which makes a book even better. I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a new action heroine or readers who like a good jungle survival adventure. I'll be reading more of Freveletti's books. I'm thrilled that my library has the next book and another in the series. I love my library!