Lost in the thriller Missing in Machu Picchu
by Annie Mary Perez
Missing in Machu Picchu by Cecilia Velástegui (Libros Publishing) is a highly intense, multi-layered thriller which will have you captivated from the start. As in her first novel, Gathering the Indigo Maidens, the author takes the reader on a remarkable journey through time, cultures and history.
The story centers on four American women, three professional Ivy League grads and a wannabe, who embark on a treacherous trek through the Andes Mountains for the purpose of burning an effigy of bad dates in an effort to cure themselves of their on-line dating addictions. Unbeknownst to them their handsome guide, Rodrigo Guamán O’Rourke, with whom they’re all infatuated, is a megalomaniacal con artist with ulterior motives.
While eavesdropping on the American women outside an Internet café, Koyam and Taki, two elderly street vendors, the latter a gifted seer, who sell souvenirs to tourists in the plaza, overhear the name Rodrigo and their blood runs cold. Could it be The Rodrigo? The half-Peruvian, half-American Inca Trail Guide rumored to have fled to the United States after beating infant-trafficking charges. The Rodrigo with a penchant for young country girls from the fringe towns around Cusco who ravished Koyam’s great-granddaughter and caused her to leave home, never to be seen again.
Risking their own safety, the two elderly vendors decide to follow the hapless women, who are being led off the beaten path by Rodrigo’s loyal but misguided minions, in hopes of saving them from his clutches.
Also shadowing the entourage is Violette, the French jilted lover of Rodrigo, whom he has conned out of a substantial inheritance, bent on exacting her revenge.
For the next few days, the four American women endure torrential rain and an arduous hike over precarious trails and past steep precipices, becoming, with each step, more and more disillusioned with the charming Rodrigo and the purpose of their trek. What they had hoped to be a transformative and transcendental experience, is fast becoming a nightmare. Little do they know what lies ahead.
Meanwhile, Koyam and Taki must call upon the wisdom and power of themallqui, an ancestral mummy, to combat the diabolical Rodrigo.
Missing in Machu Picchu is a remarkable book combining the ancient with the contemporary. The author’s love for her South American heritage is clearly evident in her description of the Inca culture, legends, history, landscape, and people. Also evident is her talent for research and period details.
The book is further enhanced by amazing photos and illustrations.
Cecilia Velástegui was born in Ecuador and raised in California and France. She received her graduate degree from the University of Southern California and speaks four languages. She is the recipient of the International Latino Book Award for her novels Missing in Machu Picchu and Gathering the Indigo Maidens. Her second novel, Traces of Bliss, was selected for the 2012 Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in partnership with the Association of American Publishers.