Heart of Diamonds by Dave Donelson
Heart of Diamonds implicates an American televangelist, the President of the Congo, and the American White House in a diamond smuggling scheme that leads to U.S. military involvement in the Congo’s civil war. TV journalist Valerie Grey uncovers the conspiracy and tries to expose it before America is drawn fully into the endless war. Powerful forces—a ruthless mercenary, the Congolese army, and cold-blooded agents sent by the White House—try to stop her in a magnificent chase along crocodile-infested rivers, overland through raging gun battles, and into the sky in armed helicopters. A big romantic love triangle propels the main characters and adds depth to the book.
The intricate story opens as, passed over for a promotion in New York, Valerie Grey takes an assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the brutal civil war is escalating and rebel assaults are increasing. After surviving an artillery attack in the capital, Valerie meets an American doctor who operates a small clinic in a remote part of the country. She learns that an American televangelist has recently bought the local diamond mine, once nationalized by the Congolese government.
Intrigued by the notion of a church running a diamond mine, Valerie and her crew travel to the distant village to investigate. She is appalled by the conditions endured by the mine workers. There is evidence of torture. They are forced to live in a virtual prison, with no freedom to visit their families. The missionary who oversees the mine is strangely unsympathetic to the plight of the workers, and that of the many orphaned children who survive only because of the small clinic in the village.
Her suspicions deepen when she sees the women of the village making small dolls out of scraps of cloth and stuffing them with a special “American filling.” Armed guards watch over the women. Each doll must be logged twice as it is completed. The level of security surrounding such trinkets is beyond her understanding. That is, until she discovers what is in the “American filling,” and where the dolls are sent.
When the US president announces that thirty thousand American troops will go to the Congo to protect American interests, Valerie knows she must tell the world what “interests” the president means.
The novel comes to its tragic climax as Valerie and her crew, the American doctor and several children desperately flee rebel soldiers, the diamond mine’s mercenaries and US agents sent to kill Valerie. Heart of Diamonds is a fast-paced thriller and heartbreaking romantic adventure set in one of the world’s most unfortunate countries.