Portugal may be a paradise for some, but for soldier of fortune Gibson Vaughn and his mates, it turns out to be an exceptionally bad spot to hide out from the FBI.
The problem isn’t with Albufeira but with Baltasar Alves, the gang leader who’s imposed a “Pax Algarve” on the region by suppressing the worst kinds of crimes, organizing the others with ruthless efficiency, and conscientiously repaying favors. An unnamed debt he owes Gibson’s ex-boss George Abe has cast him as the long-term host of George, Gibson, ex–LAPD officer Dan Hendricks, and Jenn Charles, Gibson’s sometime squeeze, as they recuperate from their most recent injuries (Cold Harbor, 2017) and wait for the feds to lose interest in them. While they’re still waiting, somebody hijacks a shipment of drugs from one of Baltasar’s many subcontractors, seriously miffing his Mexican suppliers impatient for their money. Baltasar initially suspects the subcontractor, neophyte skipper João Luna, but there’s every chance the guilty party was someone closer to home, someone like trusted lieutenant Anibal Ferro, or Fernando Alves, the son who runs his father’s legal activities, or Luisa Mata, the niece who runs all the others. Soon after Baltasar insists that the very unwilling Gibson repay his hospitality by recovering his stash double-quick, Luisa leads Gibson to the hijacked drugs, which a fiendish plotter calling himself Dol5 (dolphin—get it? "You know how a five-dollar bill is called a 'fin'?") has booby-trapped, taking a page from Auric Goldfinger, so that he can threaten to blow them up without taking the trouble to actually steal them. An unexpected offer Dol5 makes Gibson complicates the pattern of thrust and counterthrust still further, and soon nearly everyone involved is engaged in negotiating and renegotiating deals with escalating stakes, unreliable allies, and murderous adversaries.
As usual, FitzSimmons provides nonstop action and a high body count, though it’s hard to maintain a consistent rooting interest when the ground is so constantly shifting beneath his stalwart hero’s feet.