GRACIAS, ALMA FUENTES by Douglas W.  Jones


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A debut suspense novel takes a look at America’s vulnerability to terrorism and spies. 

Terrance Beaven is a disgruntled British intelligence officer about to leave his career of 20 years to orchestrate a terrorist plot targeting the United States, a country he hates and knows a thing or two about from his day job. He sees where America’s infrastructure is vulnerable—power plants, airports, refineries—and who might step up to make his plan a reality and, in the process, make him rich enough to never have to work again. That would be the Venezuelan secretary of defense, Alberto Molina, along with financiers Tahir Haddad and Ali Faizan. Beaven is capable and ruthless in putting these parties together. But he will have to stay a step or two ahead of Allan DeSanto, an American sleeper agent who has infiltrated Molina’s compound by enlisting the help of Alma Fuentes, a local prostitute looking for a way to get to the United States to start a better, more independent life. A romance blossoms between the two allies. Jones makes Beaven’s plan seem frighteningly plausible while DeSanto and Fuentes turn out to be formidable adversaries. The book starts with the effective use of a scene from later in the story, kicking off the action and intrigue from the get-go. The author is also quite skilled in presenting technical information as part of the terrifyingly realistic tale, having characters debate why one missile system is a better choice over another, and how spies relay information in plain sight. The narrative is well-paced with little fat. But while Beaven’s motivations and character flaws are well drawn, DeSanto and Fuentes feel underdeveloped and their romance forced. Jones’ prose is generally reliable except for some awkward phrases, as when he describes Fuentes in one scene as looking like a “voluptuous child” when he perhaps meant to comment on how innocent she appears. 

A complex tale that deftly delivers Tom Clancy-style action and espionage.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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