In this environmental thriller, an American attempts to protect his family from shadowy forces in Peru.
American engineer and renewable energy specialist Frank Anderson is excited to work on a solar project high in the Andes, even if he has some suspicions regarding the motivations of the oil company that is funding it. If he is successful, it may serve as a blueprint for future solar installations in the region. Not long into the work, Frank is pulled from his car and violently beaten by a gang of masked men bearing machetes and hammers. His wife, Joanna Tavares, leaves their children home in California to stand by Frank’s hospital bedside. But shortly after her arrival, she receives a sloppy, threatening note mentioning their daughters, one almost identical to the message her husband received before his attack: “MRS ANDERSON WELCOME TO HOTEL RESIDENCIAL YOU HAVE BEUATIFUL GIRLS.” Joanna is soon kidnapped outside of the hotel by another gang of men, leaving Frank in a precarious state. Who is targeting his family and why? As he works to rescue his wife—and she plots to escape—Frank must determine the parties involved not only in his beating and her kidnapping, but also the solar project that employs him. It’s a conspiracy that will lead him to powerful corporate entities in both Peru and the United States—for whom the lure of profit is easily worth the cost of human life. Smolders’ (Cloning Galinda, 2017, etc.) prose is controlled and fluid: “When Google arrived, it spoke” a cruel “language: horrifying accidents in the Andes mountains; hypoxia, altitude sickness of the worst kind; indecipherable languages; drugs; cocaine candy; terrorists; Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path resurging; kidnapping; poisoning.” The novel moves rather slowly at the beginning, and its villains are pretty easy to identify. Even so, the time that Smolders takes to build his world is well spent, increasing the verisimilitude of what could have been a silly plot in lesser hands. The dramatic setting and some compelling characters—particularly Joanna and her environmentalist sister, Anita—help to make this a believable and enjoyable read.
An uneven but entertaining tale about the struggle to displace dirty energy sources.