In Waid and Corridan’s debut novel, an ex-convict’s attempt to get back on his feet in his home base of Miami results in an unexpected and illegal expedition to Cuba.
Dixon Sweeney is not having a good week. He returns home from years of incarceration to discover that his house and wife are gone, the latter having left him for his best friend. To add insult to injury, a local gang leader threatens to kill Sweeney unless he repays the $65,000 he claims Sweeney owes him. So when an old Cuban associate of his deceased father approaches Sweeney and offers him a half-million dollars to smuggle his granddaughter out of Cuba, the desperate man reluctantly agrees, setting off a life-changing chain of events. Waid and Corridan have constructed a tightly written, extremely entertaining caper with an engaging, witty protagonist. The story deftly balances comedy and suspense, with Sweeney wryly narrating his increasingly bizarre situation in a self-deprecating voice. As outrageous and funny as the novel’s events can be, however, the authors ground their tale and characters in emotional reality. The desperation that drives Sweeney and Maria, the woman he rescues, maintains verisimilitude, even during the story’s most action-packed moments. The same can be said of the authors’ fully realized depictions of Cuba and Guantanamo Bay, which lend plausibility to the novel’s far-fetched turns, particularly regarding the unfolding love story. The novel also delivers several masterful twists that seem simultaneously shocking and, in retrospect, inevitable. In a few spots (one, unfortunately, is in a final scene), the narrative’s excellence is briefly undermined by juvenile prison-rape humor, but that aside, it’s an appealing, satirical, action-tinged adventure.
An exciting read that should appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen, espionage thrillers and caper comedies.