Like most people, I have reading preferences. Though I like suspense, I would not typically choose a novel set in Southeast Asia much less the throes of the despicable industry of child trafficking. Why then, would I review a suspense novel that contained both?
In May, a PR Representative from Kirkdale Press asked if I would post a non-compensated review of The Lotus Keeper, by K.R. Dial on my blog. Reviewing any book requires an investment of time and this would time put in a book with a subject I would reject. However, since the representative approached me, I respected the contact and truthfully told him that my schedule didn’t permit a review at that time.
Because I hoped my schedule would lighten in September (it has not), I replied that I could review the book then. If he needed a review sooner, he could renege on his request. Certainly, my response was disappointing to someone eager to introduce a new digital release to market, especially one he must have firmly believed in.
Well, it is September. And I try seriously hard to keep my promises.
I am thrilled to say The Lotus Keeper hooked me from the first sentence. And then it got better….
Sam Toney, a recent law school grad hired byAtlanta’s most prestigious law firm, dreams of prosperity. Marvin Clayton heads Global Justice, a Christian organization that rescues children from sex-trafficking. Sam’s boss sends him to record a presentation given by Marvin at a local college saying that Marvin is a troublemaker for one of the firm’s best clients: a foreign conglomerate that Sam later learns has tendrils in the child prostitution industry.
Sam and Marvin cross paths a few times and develop a friendship. The more they talk, the more Sam begins to see and admire life from Marvin’s perspective. Soon both find themselves inThailandthenBurma. Their purpose is to investigate and document a child prostitution ring, but their lives—and the lives of innocent children—are at stake. Sam, Marvin and their team are plunged into a hostile environment of dark and foreboding places, and eventually within the den of the lotus keeper while mercenaries of the foreign conglomerate pursue them, intent on stopping them at any cost.
Author K.R. Dial writes with the authenticity of one who has intimately experienced a spectrum of activities and emotions associated with child prostitution and trafficking. Distasteful as that subject may be, in both narrative and dialogue Dial maintains a position of advocacy and education. Indeed, Dial dedicates her book to her husband, Randy and the International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that rescues people from oppression. The book also resounds with a Christian perspective, including a believable salvation experience.
Many stunning phrases fill this book. In fact, some sections may have benefited from a more developed sense of relationship, or a deeper look into the characters. But certain words snap visuals for the reader with laser-like precision. One can see the hovels next to the gold temples, smell the sewage and trash, and swat at the bugs that swarm to sweat.
Yet, I never felt the descriptions vulgar. The writer danced through the sensitive subject without crossing the line. I could empathize—even feel repugnance—without losing my lunch. I do admit that I still find the subject powerfully disturbing. But I think that is one of the author’s purposes for writing the book. She definitely kicked me in my complacency, and I work with at-risk kids.
The pacing is likewise excellent except for one or two places where descriptions detract rather than add to the flow. For example, the author describes Tara, who becomes an indispensable character, wearing a green dress and jewelry. Her description became frustrating for me because it broke the action Dial set up so beautifully several paragraphs prior. Definitely forgivable, but it did make me exhale when I didn’t want to.
For the most part, the characters are believable. Sam is definitely a winner. I wish for a brother like him. Marvin perhaps seems a notch higher than most people, but he is certainly heroic and likable.
Further, for those who are geographically challenged, an appropriately tagged map of Southeast Asia would facilitate better understanding of the trafficking channels and maybe foster a better sense of the danger within the story.
If you like cause-driven fiction, this book will quicken your heartbeat. If you have an interest in the welfare of children no matter their country of origin, this book will have you cheering. If you are looking for a quick, can’t-put-down Christian suspense novel, this is definitely one to put on your list. In the meanwhile, we need to urge K.R. Dial to keep writing.