MONTE RIO by Mark Joseph


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An attempt to spy on the rich and powerful takes a deadly turn in Joseph’s (The Wild Card, 2001, etc.) latest thriller.

Every year for more than a century, members of San Francisco’s all-male Bohemian Club, “a veritable bastion of global power and privilege,” have gathered for a midsummer encampment among the redwoods near idyllic Monte Rio on California’s Russian River. This year, four wild and crazy townies, who call themselves “The Russian River Society of Pirates and Thieves,” look forward to their own tradition—using the most advanced technology available to spy on these politicians, CEOs, and other major players as they behave “like the rowdy fraternity boys many of them once were.” It turns out that the Bohemian Club lies in the cross hairs of a Russian cartel that wants revenge on five American oil companies—each one led by a Boho—for fouling up a natural gas pipeline deal. FBI agent Teddy Swan and his partner, Paul Kruger, pay an unexpected visit to the Pirates; he wants them to help the agency in protecting the Bohos from terrorist attack. Also assisting is the Pirates’ favorite local deputy, the motorcycle-riding Officer Alice. After a long-winded preface, Joseph delivers a fun, fast-paced story, filled with diverse characters—some old (such as 70-year-old Butler Rhodes, one of the Pirates and a former sniper in Vietnam), some youngish (30-year-old math teacher Phillip Mercier), and many eccentric or geeky. Along the way, he offers strong descriptions (Rhodes, for example, is “Grizzled, tough as cheap jerky”), and realistic dialogue. It’s unclear exactly why the book is in 2009, however—although it may be to avoid discussion of the current political situation in the United States, or of more cutting-edge spy tech.

A mighty entertaining espionage thriller with elements that bring to mind The Magnificent Seven.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-68433-142-0
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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