Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Revenge in Exile: A review

Here's the latest book I've reviewed for Joe Bob Briggs. It's a pretty decent read and perfect for taking along on the cruise for pool side reading.

McCauley is aiming at the Ludlum crowd and does good job in his premiere effort.

REVENGE IN EXILE BY Scot McCauley Published by Leisure Books:
ISBN: 0843956305

Author Scot McCauley is a retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral. He skillfully uses his expertise in military matters as well as his knowledge of the workings of Washington to create a solid first novel. Unfortunately, he makes the common first time author’s mistake of bringing in a few too many characters, and appears to lose track of a couple when wrapping things up in the end. This was the only real flaw I found in an otherwise nice thriller.

McCauley introduces us to David Andrews and Cole Palmer former Navy officers who were close friends but took very different paths after their early days. While Palmer remained in the Navy, Andrews left to initially pursue a career in business and then in politics. The book finds him as a National Security Advisor to President Washburn, a Democrat up for re-election. Things may be going fairly well on the domestic front but turmoil in Mexico may cause problems for the Washburn campaign. It also appears that Andrews has been going behind the back of his bosses to solidify his own political future in a second Washburn White House.

Former Mexican President Victor Hidalgo had to leave his country in disgrace when it was discovered his brother was involved with some illegal activities. Hidalgo is planning on a triumphant return to his native land, even if his attempt to regain the Presidency could cause a constitutional problem or even civil war. Taking advantage of all this is Javier Navarro, leader of La Eme the major Mexican drug cartel. Navarro has gotten his hands on some ‘suitcase’ bombs created by and left behind by the former Soviet Army when they departed much of their former empire. While some of these will be used in the usual terrorist bombings in markets and hotels to confuse authorities on both sides of the border, Navarro has cleverly gotten one such device into the Promonotorio Mountain nuclear waste depository. The bomb is set to go off during the grand-opening ceremonies attended by President Washburn and his Mexican counterpart.

NSA advisor Andrews calls upon his old friend Cole to look into things in Mexico City, where, the now widowed Palmer meets Dr. Elizabeth Cramer, an economist working at the American Embassy. Palmer falls back on his own military skills and those of a team of Navy SEALS in an attempt to discover just what Navarro and his henchmen have been up to in the desert. Unfortunately, this puts him and Dr. Cramer in the way of La Eme’s plans, which is not where anybody would like to be.

McCauley brings enough depth to most of his major players to make us care about what is happening to them. It’s only in his over populating of the story that he nearly capsizes the whole thing. There is also a good deal of coincidental good luck on Palmer’s part, but that can be said of the lead in any number of thrillers. Chalk it up to a freshman writer stretching himself a bit too thin.

Three stars.
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