An elite American soldier is captured in Nicaragua during a time of brutal rivalry between the Contras and Marxist rebels in this historical novel.
In 1985, the U.S. government was committed to helping the Nicaraguan Contras push back the Sandinistas and established a clandestine base of operations in Honduras that could launch supply missions. That base came to be known as Constable Outreach and operated only at the vacillating whims of Honduran President Roberto Suazo Córdova. Now, the program is about to be shut down, and Lester Russell, a C-123 loadmaster, goes on one last flight into Nicaraguan territory. But after the plane takes enemy fire, he’s ejected from it with the supplies. He’s badly injured, sinking into a coma, and is captured by Sandinista troops. His operations manager, Tom McKay, is desperate to retrieve him, but his access to electronic surveillance has already been pulled, and he encounters an entangled web of political resistance. Cadmus (Anger’s Journey, 2001) vividly depicts the historical horizon within which the story occurs—a troubled Latin America roiled by its own intramural tensions as well as the contest between the U.S. and Soviet Union on its soil. The author also chronicles the view from the inside—two revolutionaries, Miguel Velasquez and Juanita Maria Perez, meet and fall in love in Cuba and move to Nicaragua. Miguel becomes a legendary hero for his support of the Sandinistas, and his son is captured by the Contras as retribution for his deeds. Cadmus’ research is remarkable—he provides astute insights into the historical currents that ushered in the plot’s moment in time and displays a mastery of Latin American politics. In addition, he deftly dramatizes the way in which craven political interests can stymie the effective management of military operations. But the author’s writing can be awkward and melodramatic: “Caught in your own dichotomy. Two desires of equal import, coming together in the mind of one man. How does one choose? Commitments signed and sealed.” Nevertheless, the sheer intelligence of the novel—and its historical nuances—overcomes its uneven prose.
A thrilling peek into a tumultuous era.