A Cipher In The Sand by Sandra Bolton
Even before the plane touches down in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Sarah Nelson questions her motives for being there. By the time this feminist adventure novel ends, Sarah’s life is forever altered as the naive and idealistic woman encounters more intrigue, danger, and mystery than she ever bargained for.
The year is 1985, and Ronald Reagan is president. Following a recent divorce from her husband of 28 years, Sarah decides to join the Peace Corps. She leaves behind her Minnesota farm, a teaching career, and two grown children to begin a new life on the northern coast of Honduras, a poverty-stricken, tropical paradise, caught between the U.S. funded Contras and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.
The Garifunas, a unique Afro-Amerindian culture, are her nearest neighbors. Her closest ally in times of trouble is the ancient female tribal leader and spiritualist, Xiomara, who draws her into a mysterious world of the supernatural.
A Cipher in the Sand offers the readers not only a glimpse into a fascinating third-world culture during a turbulent time in history, but also tells the story of Sarah, who, given a second chance at life and love, discovers a greater understanding of herself and the complex world in which she lives.
The following is the most recently submitted review of her debut novel, A Cipher in the Sand:
“I bought this book (Cipher) on a whim and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story is fast-paced and the main characters are engaging and easy to relate to. Few words are wasted as images, scenes, and conversations come alive.
The story itself is clever, filled with unexpected turns which weave a detailed story of naive Peace Corps volunteers who are thrown into a world of corruption and deceit. Innocence evolves to maturity as the protagonists make tough choices to put their own lives at risk to make the world a better place.
Not in the straightforward ways they envisioned when they joined the Peace Corps, but in ways which tested their commitments and forced them to challenge their own government’s complicity in schemes which harm the very people that the volunteers are supposed to be helping.
As someone who travelled through Central America shortly before the time frame of this story, I found Bolton’s portrayal of the antagonists’ behaviors and values to be disturbingly realistic as she exposes the political and military double-dealing which went on in that part of the world during the era of the Iran-Contra scandal.
Somebody really did their homework before they wrote this novel! But the story is then told in a very personal, touching, and intimate way.
I literally could not put the book down. I was captivated from the first page, and I will keep an eye peeled for future works from the same writer.”
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