"Rife with action, suspense, and a final act that's fully energized."– Kirkus Reviews
A U.S. soldier employs his Special Forces skill set to rescue his younger sister from kidnappers in Dimodica’s (Vile Means, 2016, etc.) thriller.
Izzy Soto Finley’s scheduled trip in 2006 to South America for her senior thesis (about the Dirty War in Argentina in the 1970s and ’80s) has caught the attention of some dangerous people. Unnamed military officers in Chile, with ties to the Empresa, a criminal enterprise, want to take down the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet; she recently spoke at a memorial for diplomat Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated 30 years ago. Izzy’s mother, Constanza Soto, who once worked for Letelier, was at the memorial, too. Izzy is in Santiago, Chile, with her roommate Sandy, just as the Empresa is expanding their operations there. When Izzy makes a request to speak to the president about her paper, the criminal organization orders men to abduct the two young women. Fortunately, Izzy’s half brother is Cal Lozen, a Special Forces officer who was trained as a tracker by his father. With help from David Shields, a former Green Beret now with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Santiago, Cal questions various people about the girls’ whereabouts—using the occasional household tool, such as a mallet, as backup. Soon Empresa members come gunning for Cal. Dimodica’s novel keeps things moving with unwavering momentum. It offers breezy exposition, as in one man’s interview regarding the Empresa’s origins—a series of short, intermittent scenes that pay off with plenty of info. There are scenes of violence, primarily against villains, but moments of torture, once they get more physical than psychological, are only implied. The often serious plot is alleviated at times by wry humor; for example, David, after getting an update on Cal’s progress, asks, without a hint of sarcasm, “Is the body count increasing?” But suspense prevails as it turns out that the involvement of other agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, may not be helpful for Cal; at another point, Izzy’s parents are threatened after they contact the media.
A thoroughly entertaining tale with a brutal but commendable protagonist.
Dimodica (Covert Matters, 2015, etc.) crafts an intricately plotted spy game.
In 1999, Norris Stanton is a wealthy recluse and a survivor of the Nazi regime who now masterfully manipulates world currency markets. He also exploits Panama’s Colón Free Trade Zone and canal to make billions, then funnels all the profits to the Israeli Mossad. But as the official handoff of the canal from the United States to Panama approaches, Norris’ scheme is in jeopardy. He puts in a call to Tel Aviv for his marker, and the Mossad hatches a plot to destabilize Panama with a Serbian psychopath, who sets about forming a ragtag army of peasants to terrorize the country “for a taste of power, money, and a sense of belonging.” The goal is to lure the United States into an invasion to protect their ally and the all-important canal. When the CIA begins receiving reports from Panama of rape, torture, and murder by members of a new revolutionary movement, they send a “blind team” in country to do reconnaissance and report back. Dimodica, a former Special Forces and military intelligence operative, is good at setting the stage, and although the plot is complicated, it’s structured well enough to avoid confusion. However, the author’s habitual use of short, choppy paragraphs sometimes interferes with the narrative flow as the multinational narrative jumps from time zone to time zone. The pace is brisk and steady at the beginning, and again during the climax and denouement, but lags in the middle third; however, the ending is touching and satisfying. Dimodica’s characters are surprisingly well-developed for the genre and mostly portrayed sympathetically, with the exception of the monstrous Serb—but even he gets a back story revealing his motivations. Dimodica even waxes poetic at times: “Twilight is a time for artists, painters, photographers, and romantics. It is also the time of professional soldiers.” He also brings knowledge and experience to the story when depicting political machinations and explaining operational tactics, and he provides historical, cultural, and sociological context from the Oval Office to the Panamanian jungle.
A smart, layered spy thriller.
Various intelligence agencies scramble to get their hands on Albert Einstein’s lost manuscript, the solution to the Theory of Everything, in Dimodica’s (Covert Matters, 2008) thriller.
The CIA’s belief that Einstein solved the TOE and hid his final manuscript was pure conjecture, but the document may have resurfaced. The TOE solution can be used to manipulate the forces of nature and, in the wrong hands, as a weapon. The agency sends special activities division operative Terry Solak and theoretical physicist Melissa Hastings to Istanbul to recover and verify the manuscript. But they’re already behind Tefvik Yilmaz of the Dönmeh, a secret organization in Turkey. He’s been tracking and killing the keepers, a circle of scientists that’s kept the document concealed for years. Soon, everyone from Russian intelligence agents to Mossad officer David Reisman heads to Morocco, hoping to retrieve the TOE solution from one of the last keepers. The exhilarating novel showcases myriad agencies and characters, some of whom have less than reputable agendas. Short chapters that bounce from scene to scene give the story a steady tempo. To help the reader remember important players, Dimodica spotlights certain characters, like Americans Terry and Melissa or the mysterious Farraj, who offers to help David but whose true allegiance is initially unclear. Yilmaz is unquestionably the most fascinating. A prominently featured bad guy (and the deadliest), Yilmaz also has a complicated back story. He was a victim of rape while at an orphanage and is later taken in by Oguz Ghanem, his Dönmeh benefactor, who treats him like a son. Terry’s history, on the other hand, is unknown. He initially seems condescending, apparently believing that one of Melissa’s better traits is the fact that she doesn’t ask questions. Nevertheless, readers will savor the more overt qualities of the hero-villain duo. Terry, for example, faces armed men regardless of whether he’s armed or not, while Yilmaz winks at someone he then shoots in the head and does cringe-worthy things with other people’s fingernails. The story picks up even more speed as it nears its indelible ending.
Rife with action, suspense, and a final act that’s fully energized.