An intelligent mystery set during a compelling time in history, Sigmund Brouwer’s Saffire is a fascinating novel. James Holt made a lasting impression on Teddy Roosevelt during their service together in the Spanish-American War; now it’s 1909 and the President wants James to travel to Panama and meet with the Canal’s American Zone leader. Once James arrives, however, his investigation into the disappearance of young Saffire’s mother turns deadly, and he finds himself in the midst of a potential revolution.
The characters in Saffire are varied and realistic. James Holt is endearing and his first-person narration has a clear, distinct voice. The faith element is light and never preachy; James views everyone through a faith-based worldview and wants to help those who cannot help themselves. The secondary characters are vibrant. In particular, T.B. Miskimon, Canal Zone Inspector and reluctant helper to James, provides some humorous pieces of dialogue and Saffire makes a memorable first appearance. There’s also a heartfelt romantic thread running behind the action and history.
Readers who know little about the building of the Panama Canal, or the political climate of the time, will become well-informed in an organic way throughout the story. The descriptions of the different aspects of construction are equally fascinating, and the magnitude of this undertaking is keenly felt. Unique, smart and compelling, Saffire is sure to be remembered well after the last page.