My Rating: 3 Stars
Description: I reminded myself that
once you start to defend someone, it's difficult to find a place to
stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway.
Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans
mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His
command was to 'let the dirt fly' and for years, the American Zone of
the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence
with the Panamanian aristocrats.
It's in this buffered Zone where, in
1909, James Holt takes that first step to protect a mulatto girl named
Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it
draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates,
gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their
interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of
deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It
will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course or
bring an end to it.
A love story set within a historical mystery,
Saffire is brings to vibrant life the most impressive and embattled
engineering achievement of the twentieth-century"
My Thoughts: Saffire likely would have been more accurately titled Panama, since a good portion of the novel is scenes in which the POV character mulls over the ambition and ingenuity that went into the construction of the Panama Canal. The plot centers around the greed and political maneuvering which took place during that time, with the hero being drawn into it both for his own financial needs and concern for the young girl Saffire.
The story has its ups and downs, shifting between scenes of high intrigue to others that read more like a historical reflection. Police corruption and an encounter with the "alligator" kept the plot moving while Brouwer's extensive research painted a picture of the entire construction, from idea to partial completion.
The book is well written, with a setting history lovers will adore. Yet for those who are only mildly interested in history, Brouwer's research into the canal is far more a focus of the story than it is just a setting. As a historically focused novel, it was interesting, but the plot did little to draw me back into wanting to pick it up and read it.
I have provided an honest review after having received a free copy of this book from the publisher.