Son Of The Maya
by John H. McKoy
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"Hour after hour, we trudged through brush, forest, and an occasional clearing, but no farm, no town, no well-worn path, and no sign of other humans appeared."

The haves and the have-nots, the upwardly mobile and the mean street toughs, the immigrants and the natives, the guardians of the status quo and the unabashed revolutionaries—they all struggle, skirmish, and intertwine in this geopolitical thriller that is as much about social change as it is about kidnap survival. McKoy has penned a tale that may appeal equally to both admirers of adventure and addicts of international studies. His is a yarn as much about right and wrong as it is about good and bad—and how it’s sometimes very difficult to know exactly which is which.

Roberto, born in Guatemala but raised in the United States, is an enormously successful real estate executive in the Washington D. C. area circa 2005. Now in his early fifties, he has the financial security to do whatever he wants to with his life. Divorced from his wife and virtually estranged from his daughter who is attending college on the other side of the continent, he decides to sell his business and start a foundation to help Latin American youth. His efforts to foster and promote achievement, however, soon begin to conflict with a criminal element intent upon keeping young Latinos hooked on drugs and in stagnation. Unbeknownst to Roberto initially, the drug operation is actually funded by a rebel leader in Guatemala. The illicit drug profits provide sustenance for his revolutionary practices in the South American country. As Roberto’s philanthropic efforts begin to take hold and threaten to decrease the size of the D. C. drug market, the rebel leader, known as Jaguar Paw, kidnaps Roberto’s nephew and spirits him away to his Guatemalan hideaway. Roberto takes it upon himself to rescue his nephew, but his effort soon leads to his own capture.

In the depths of the steaming jungle, an ongoing debate begins between the capitalist and the revolutionary, raising questions pertinent to our times. Is social justice achievable? If so, at what price? Are the lives of a few innocents acceptable if their sacrifice leads to a better life for the multitudes? Can the arc of history be changed, or are some cultures trapped in endless cycles of corruption? As the disputes are pondered and adjudicated, a clandestine rescue mission is planned and put in motion.

While the author does a good job of building suspense and keeping readers’ wondering whether Roberto and his nephew will survive, that’s not the only thing on his agenda. Much of the book concerns itself with the issue of inequality—the disparity that exists between the aristocrats and the peasants, or the burgeoning middle class versus the perennial underclass forever kept down by fear, prejudice, and lack of opportunity. This is a novel as devoted to examining societal evolution as it is to the narrative arc. Fortunately, McKoy is able to keep the pace of his story moving forward briskly while still examining potential cures for various social ills—though from time to time his dialogue does sound more like faculty coffee klatch chatter rather than full-throated, heat-filled argument. The author’s character development is strong, however. You believe the behavior and the motives of both principal and supporting players. Sincerity is inherent throughout. The majority of McKoy’s people are doing their best to achieve noble ends even though they differ greatly on the means to those ends. This is a book that seeks to enlighten as well as engage, to examine as well as entertain—goals that may not be common but are certainly laudatory.

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