Hurwitz (Tell No Lies, 2013, etc.) again proves himself a plot master as he follows Eve Hardaway on a much-needed vacation into Mexico’s Oaxacan jungles.
It was supposed to be an anniversary trip. Then Eve’s husband found a younger, more "elegant" woman. Eve decided the prepaid getaway to Días Felices Ecolodge was just the ticket anyway, especially after having given up nursing for a mind-numbing corporate cubicle to support her son. At the lodge, Eve stumbles upon a lost digital camera while on a jungle trek and later learns that it belongs to Theresa Hamilton, now missing. On the same trek, Eve spies a mysterious man near a ramshackle hut secreted in the dense foliage. After deftly creating empathy for Eve, Hurwitz drops her into live-or-die circumstances, buoyed only by her shaky but ever growing self-confidence and love for her son. The mystery jungle dweller is slowly revealed to be Bashir Ahmat al-Gilani, the Bear of Bajaur, a bloodthirsty terrorist hiding in Mexico and a character written with inventive back story. If Días Felices is a jungle Ship of Fools, characters run to type: macho "Gay Jay," healing after a bad romance; Will, his straight best friend, the McGyver that Eve needs; Claire, a lonely, bitter and vocal young woman handicapped by leg braces; Harry and Sue, an older couple more interested in personal safety than group survival; and jungle-wise Fortunato, indígenio lodge cook. In a plot as fast as river rapids, Eve fights more battles than Rambo and copes with intermittent Internet connections, a satellite phone that only occasionally gets a signal, gangrene, dysentery, disembowelment by IED and a "black wave" of "eat-everything-in-their-path" sweeper ants. Hurwitz relates Oaxaca imaginatively, with a villain who reminds a soccer mom that "jungle laws had always run beneath it all, a molten stream under the bedrock."
Hurwitz adds to his string of imaginative thrillers with an action-adventure story ready for blockbuster Hollywood—get Cameron Diaz’s people!