The adventures of presidential go-to guy Charley Castillo continue in the latest from Griffin (By Order of the President, 2005, etc.), who has more series under his belt than the entire Stratemeyer Syndicate.
Somebody has kidnapped attractive, rich, African-American embassy wife Betsy Masterson from the parking lot of the posh Buenos Aires restaurant where she had been stood up by her handsome, athletic, ambitious husband. Recovery of Mrs. Masterson is entrusted by America’s no-guff president to Army Major C. G. “Charley” Castillo, polylingual heir to huge fortunes in Texas and Germany, handsome helicopter pilot and endlessly resourceful assistant to the Secretary of Homeland Security, yet another no-guff guy. Armed with total authority over everything and everybody in sight, Charley checks into the Buenos Aires Four Seasons under one of his several aliases and immediately ingratiates himself with the manly good-guys, whose number include the ambassador, at the embassy. What none of these right-thinking, Scotch-swilling men of action know, but what is revealed early on to the reader, is that Betsy Masterson has not been snatched by your everyday terrorist. Her taking is somehow involved with the Iraqi oil-for-food scheme in which her no-good brother, a U.N. bureaucrat, is somehow involved. The bad situation turns worse when Betsy’s husband is murdered, having been summoned by the kidnappers, who release their badly traumatized victim. As Charley begins to sort things out, he finds that he needs help from home. Betty Schneider, the sexy, straight-shooting, ex–Philadelphia policewoman turned Secret Service agent on whom he has a serious crush, offers assistance. The well-toned couple has but one night between the smooth Four Seasons sheets before assassins nearly succeed in killing Betty, sending Charley into high gear and a lot of intercontinental travel until there is a climax in nearby Uruguay.
The prolific, mega-selling Griffin is well on his way to a credible American James Bond franchise. It’s slick as hell, but the big heart of the Marine series is not there, and that’s too bad.