In McKoy’s (Paying to Play in Hong Kong, 2009) adventure, a philanthropist attempts to rescue a loved one after one of his projects disrupts a Guatemalan revolutionary’s drug traffic.
Roberto Prettyman, a native of Guatemala City, immigrated to the United States in 1958, when he was 5. Now, in 2005, he feels disconnected to his Washington, D.C., immigrant community, and he decides to sell his real estate company. He plans to use his wealth to start a foundation, the Quetzal Fund, and help young Central American immigrants with job training and placement. He offers his first grant to Marta Hernandez, the CEO of La Puerta Abierta, an “after-school music, art, dance, and exercise facility.” Surprisingly, the growth of Marta’s program disturbs Guatemalan rebel leader Felix Gigante (aka “the Jaguar Paw”), as it’s causing a drop in his drug sales in D.C. Then Felix orders the kidnapping of Roberto’s 20-something nephew, Raúl Gonzales, who briefly lived with his uncle a few years ago. This forces Roberto to travel to Guatemala, where Felix takes him captive as well; it’s all part of his plan to shut down La Puerta Abierta for good. The abductees contemplate escape, but if they do so, they’ll have to traverse a blistering hot jungle as they try to find a way to contact friends and family. There’s plenty of political discourse in McKoy’s novel, and the rich dialogue smartly examines issues of social change. For example, the book compares how the philanthropist and the violent revolutionary both seek to aid youth in their respective countries. These conversations do, however, often take precedence over action scenes, of which there are very few. Still, McKoy provides his characters with comprehensive back stories, noting, for instance, that Roberto has an ex-wife, Mónica Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant with a cosmetic dermatology practice in Miami. Their adult daughter, Lisa Prettyman, spearheads the search for her missing father, teaming up with her mom and Alice Brown, Roberto’s executive assistant at Quetzal. It’s quite refreshing to see a thriller in which women work to rescue captive men.
A methodically paced thriller, strengthened by resourceful characters.