Bitter ex-cop and his pal take on Castro and his minions, in Stroud’s fourth—and disappointingly punchless—suspenser.
They fired Rick Braca from the state cops for trying to do his job better than the brass wanted him to, and now, at 32, rootless, listless, and career-less, he’s a young man very much at sea. Literally, too, since movie producer Jack Siegel—for whom he does some technical advising—has given Rick temporary custodianship of the slick, 44-foot-long cruiser Caganchco, and he’s been swanning around on it in the Florida Straits, attempting to hide from himself how much he hates having nothing worthwhile to do. Enter an unlikely genie in the enigmatic guise of Charles Green—a.k.a. Charles Kelleher, a.k.a., as it turns out, a grab-bag of other clandestine names as well. Rick saves Charles’s life, pulling him from his downed airplane to safety aboard the Caganchco. Shortly thereafter, Charles returns the favor, and the two find themselves inextricably knotted. But just who is Charles? While it’s certain he’s a dab hand in a firefight, everything else about him is mysterious. Still, Charles does have a mission of some sort, that much is clear, and though Rick’s clueless as to its exact nature, he wastes no time signing on. What matters to him is that suddenly life has purpose. Little by little, Charles divulges pieces of his story. He’s being blackmailed, he says, forced into flying covert operations for the Cubans, for Castro, because they hold his beloved daughter hostage and he’s determined to find and free her. And Rick is determined to help. What hasn’t as yet been determined, however, is how much of what he’s been told is true and how much spyspeak.
Shallow characterizations, sketchy motivations, and, for this action-oriented writer (Black Water Transit, 2001, etc.), a surprising amount of yada-yada.