In April 2007, a highway murder and kidnapping north of Acapulco, Mexico, threatens the relations between the United States and its southern neighbor, and may have much broader implications. A couple of DEA agents accompany two Special Forces U.S. Army officers en route to a meeting in Acapulco to advise local officials in the drug wars with Mexican cartels. They are detained at a roadblock and are forced to exit the diplomatically licensed car. The driver and two DEA agents are shot without warning, and Lt. Col. James Ferris is knocked out, cuffed, blindfolded and thrown into the back of a Suburban. Lt. General Bruce McNab, Special Ops Commander, receives word of the abduction at his office at Ft. Bragg, N.C. from Secretary of State Natalie Cohen.
"W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV again give us an action/adventure story, filled with espionage, unusual personalities, patriotic zeal and a conclusion with enough questions to make the reader ask for more."
Meanwhile, a meeting of power players in two private corporations takes place in Las Vegas. Retired Lt. Col. Carlos "Charley" Castillo and his LCBF corporation meet with a group known as "Those People" made up of venture-capital-sponsored former government FBI and CIA types. They will collaborate when clandestine special operations outside the government's realm are called for. Castillo's previous operation called for his resignation as an active Army officer. Señorita Susanna Barlow and her brother, Thomas, rescued from a return to Russian Secret Services by Castillo, join him in the discussions. The groups plan to combine financial and physical resources if called to action.
When Castillo hears of his friend's kidnapping, he adds up the details and discovers more unanswered questions. At the same time, General McNab sends a special envoy to Mexico to identify the bodies, enlists Roscoe Danton from the Washington Times-Post to control publicity and decides to ask Castillo for help, if needed.
To further complicate matters, President Clendennen plunges forward to resolve the situation with diplomacy. The man trusts no one in his inner circle, firing his Press Secretary, Porky Parker, over a minor mistake. The President believes there’s a conspiracy to remove him from office. He wants to pull the strings to release Ferris from his captors. Their request for his freedom is to swap him for a Mexican national serving in a U.S. prison. McNab and Secretary Cohen believe that much more is at stake than dealings with drug cartels. It's time to call in Castillo's group for clandestine action.
Meanwhile, both Parker and Clanton are brought into the Castillo inner circle to maintain press security. Gen. McNab's job would be on the line if the president discovered the sanctioned behind-the-scenes activity. Castillo annoys the President further by attending the funeral of his former Special Ops friend at Arlington, along with his entire "Outlaw" group. The widow had requested her husband's burial in Texas, but Clendennen had insisted on a very public interment, complete with full ceremony and press.
There is also the matter of a Mexican police Black Hawk helicopter, thought to have been destroyed in Castillo's earlier operation. Castillo bought it with corporate money and has it stored at Ft. Bragg until further needed. Now appears to be the time. With information supplied by reliable informants, he believes that Russian influence is behind the killings and that the plan is to draw his men into a trap recapturing former SVR agents Sweaty Barlow and her brother, Tom. Castillo smells the odor of revenge in the obtuse deal.
Although Castillo seems mature beyond his years, we are reminded that he is retired by 30 and independently wealthy. W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV again give us an action/adventure story, filled with espionage, unusual personalities, patriotic zeal and a conclusion with enough questions to make the reader ask for more. Hopefully the father and son team will continue to resurrect Charley Castillo and his merry band of Outlaws. In fact, Sweaty does provide a romantic interest for our hero that could blossom in future episodes.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 20, 2012