An array of players instigates a three-pronged terrorist attack in Puerto Rico in this debut thriller.
A mysterious man named San Miguel meets with accomplices regarding their plan to wreak havoc in Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan area by blowing up bridges and capturing hostages at a hotel, cruise ship, and the governor’s residence. The terrorists’ stated aim is independence for Puerto Rico, with a student group, Socialist militants, and consulting Venezuelan army specialists all part of the coalition. Yet San Miguel, whose nationality is unclear, also has a henchman wheel a “device” to a secret location within the city. The terrorist plot is executed successfully, forcing officials and everyday people to react. A key responder turns out to be Lucas Alfaro, who runs a jewelry shop in Old San Juan yet also has Army Ranger training. Rushing to the governor’s residence to rescue his godson, who’s visiting the leader’s young son, Lucas manages to disrupt the terrorists’ operations. His TV reporter sister Michelle plays a part as well, as does a professional male escort aboard the cruise ship. Working with these citizen helpers and trying to meet the terrorists’ demands for cash and the release of an imprisoned militant leader is a weary police superintendent, who’s also tracking a mole within his department. Before the novel’s end, there’s renewed patriotism and harmony in Puerto Rico, but then Lucas discovers, and must foil, San Miguel’s plans for that device. In this novel, Pabon creates a fun, San Juan–set pastiche of cinematic blockbusters such as Independence Day, Die Hard, Poseidon Adventure, Rambo, and, especially, given the story’s tense showdown, Speed. The narrative gets off to a slow start, burdened by having to introduce its overly extensive cross-section of characters and provide the flavor of its political backdrop. Somewhat fuzzy, especially to a non-native, is whether some political/historical elements are fictional or not. Still, once the plot gets rolling, the author effectively cross-cuts between his three theaters of war, providing a page-turning brew of humor, pathos, and suspense.
An engaging opus, packed with action and conspirators, that gains punch and steam after a sluggish start.