In Winther’s thriller, a vacation goes perilously awry when two friends encounter danger, intrigue and drug smugglers in the exotic resorts and mountain villages of Peru.
Along with her best friend Carrie, legal secretary Jan Fielding arrives in Peru hoping for a relaxing, glamorous vacation away from the office. But almost immediately it’s anything but peaceful. Gun-toting soldiers patrol the streets, Carrie’s suitcase is broken into while the girls are in the hotel bar and there’s something odd about their tour guide, Luis, the son of a business associate of Carrie’s father. Worse, Jan feels an attraction toward him that she doesn’t want. Nevertheless, Jan is determined to enjoy the sights of ancient and modern Peru. But as they travel to some of the country’s most intriguing locales, the girls’ relationship deteriorates as Carrie acts more and more suspicious. The appearance of the overly friendly, chameleonlike American named Brewster further convinces Jan that something’s going on. But her growing relationship with Luis makes the usually in-control secretary dangerously off-balance. When she learns Carrie’s father is smuggling drugs and Carrie is working with the DEA to uncover the drug ring, Jan wants out—now. Unfortunately, she’s “persuaded” to spy on their prime suspect, Luis, even if it costs Jan her life. Winther nicely ramps up the suspense and tension from page to page, and her details of Peru’s landscape, natives and locales pull readers into a lush South American realm. But it’s also a disturbing tale of morality as Jan struggles to come to terms with Peru’s impoverished population and their survival role in the production of cocaine. Colorful characters pepper the narrative and create a well-rounded cast. Some story threads aren’t solved and the ending feels hasty and flat. Still, it’s satisfying to see Jan figure out what’s important in life and make peace with her past while catching the bad guys.
An ultimately fulfilling thriller with plenty of treachery, villains and heroes to go around.