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11 November 2012

Russell Blake: Geronimo Beach

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Reluctant Hero - "Al the Slob"
This was one of the most original and amusing thrillers I have read for some time. Russell Blake has skilfully crafted an almost believable conspiracy theory CIA thriller around a reluctant hero (or more truthfully anti-hero) Albert Ross.

Meet the reluctant hero - "Albert Ross, proud member of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps in shit-swamp Panama, Central America at your service".  In reality Al is a real slob whose daily routine includes large doses of alcohol and nicotine, and American fast-food to keep building his obesity.  To provide the cash to support his demanding lifestyle, via his contact with the Madame of the local bordello, Al uses of his diplomatic status to help people leave Panama illegally.

Al's boss, Sam (who is marginally brighter than Al) is impressed that Al was decorated for bravery during service in Kuwait. Actually Al was the only survivor of a gone-bad cocaine purchase meet between his Army buddies and a group of heavily armed locals. The Army thought that brave Marines had been ambushed by terrorists and Al, as the sole (but wounded) survivor was decorated for his bravery - Al preferred to keep the army version of the event.

The action really starts when Al agrees to escort a recently unemployed chef, Alfonso, to cross the border illegally into Colombia.  Both of them are not aware that Alfonso is being sought by powerful forces to recover some property he took from his former employer.

What happens then is an action-packed and frequently very amusing tale of Al's travels from Panama to Colombia. From time to time I laughed out loud at Al's predicaments and reactions. Blake carefully developed Al's character so that at the end I nearly liked him.

Russell Blake is a talented author to be able to write this kind of character based thriller as well his current more action-based thrillers (the Jet and Assassin series).

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