Day of the Resurrection

In the spring of 1988, during the final year of the Stroessner era, an old woman begs God to avenge her daughter’s murder by General Erwin von Hoth, commandant of Paraguay’s notorious La Colmena Centro de la Internación Nacional. That’s his day job. At night he takes on a more serious role: head of Stroessner’s Urban Guards–the dreaded pyragués!

American structural engineer Jon Granger has come to Paraguay to carry out emergency repair work on the new Itaipú dam. He is 36 years old, single, known to his friends as the Happy Cajun. His primary interests are music, women and the deep Catholic faith of his French ancestors, but there is also a darker side to his nature known only to family and close friends. His assignment complete, Granger returns to Asunción to catch his flight back to New Orleans. It is late evening when he strolls over to a nearby plaza to listen and then participate in a musical gathering. A mugging incident out on the street brings the proceeding to a halt. The intended victim is a prostitute. Despite dire warnings from his employer, Granger is unable to resist getting involved. Minutes later the American is whisked away by the prostitute in her tiny Fiat. He has just killed a man–who turns out to be a member of the secret police. Thus begins Granger’s descent into Hell.

Shortly after Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, he arranged for Julio Rafael to open a chapter of Amnesty International in Paraguay. The elderly attorney’s dream of bringing an end to government atrocities soon dissolves in the face of Alfredo Stroessner’s repressive tactics. Rafael is all but ready to call it quits when a miracle occurs–two, in fact.

Highly intelligent and articulate, 21-year-old Marianna von Hoth is well aware of her father’s loathsome reputation, and senses the time has come to distance herself from his heinous activities. Her painful decision becomes the catalyst that will lead to the demise of her entire family. In the midst of this shameful betrayal, Marianna finds herself caught up in a web of conspiracy where paranoia takes on a whole new meaning. She also meets and falls in love with a perfect stranger.

Chief of State Security Ramon Chavez is El Presidente’s friend and trusted advisor, a man so powerful that nothing of consequence takes place in Paraguay without the Undertaker’s personal stamp of approval. Chavez has a thorny issue to address: an oversupply of political prisoners. A brilliant strategist, he manages to devise a solution that will not only resolve this outstanding problem to Stroessner’s satisfaction, but at the same time allow him to accomplish his longtime goal of seducing Erwin von Hoth’s beautiful young wife. His obsession helps fuel the horrific dance of destiny and death that will trigger the downfall of his government.

This (114,500 word) story of betrayal and loyalty, of greed and sacrifice, of deep personal love and love of country, takes place within the framework of an Amnesty International investigation into the brutal murder of a Mennonite youth up in the Chaco Boreal, Paraguay’s desolate wild west. Two interwoven subplots help heat the pace to a final denouement where powerful vengeance is unleashed against the leaders of South America’s most malevolent regime.