THE ESKIMO HUNTS IN MIAMI is the follow-up to Stefan Kanfer’s THE ESKIMO HUNTS IN NEW YORK, and is a quantum leap above and beyond that impressive series debut. Kanfer’s primary literary contributions up until now have been in the biographical and nonfiction areas, and his street-savvy attitude and superlative powers of observation serve him well in this latest book, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most glittery and gritty cities.
"You should be reading this series. Gulok is one of the more interesting fictional characters I have encountered recently, and his employment situation is an intriguing one."
Jordan Gulok is “The Eskimo” of the titles, an Inuit who is a crack shot and a Navy SEAL. He is a special operator at large, if you will, a kind of free floater who moves where he wants and reports in to his boss, the hard-boiled and somewhat dyspeptic Admiral Benjamin, when his instincts tell him to do so. Gulok is on leave as the new book begins, following the cataclysmic events that concluded the first one. But he can’t stay quiet or quit observing what is going on around him, regardless of whether or not he’s on leave. When he stops by a shooting range to keep his deadly skills sharp, he is hired as an instructor, putting everyone from housewives concerned with personal security to hard-eyed Cubanos who think they know it all but have to learn it all again.
However, there are several elements that are tickling Gulok’s radar. A series of murders are occurring in Miami, and the clues surrounding them point a bit too obviously to Miami’s Lemon City, also known as La Petite Haiti. There is also an enigmatic number --- 417 --- that keeps turning up. Gulok initially thinks that it refers to an area code (it’s in Missouri), but that would be too obvious and too far away. Interestingly enough, however, the Army is investigating an attack on an Army depot in Missouri that resulted in the deaths of several soldiers and the theft of enough weapons and munitions to kill thousands of citizens. Gulok is perilously close to the key to everything, but has difficulty convincing his military handlers that the tickling on the back of his neck means something.
The result is a bit of dark humor ala Elmore Leonard, as Gulok and his distant, loose-leashed employer are unaware that they have hold of different parts of the same elephant that they are both looking for. Gulok gradually realizes that he is in the perilous middle of a plot that, if successfully executed, will have serious repercussions for the country. He is in the best position to prevent that from happening, though his proximity puts him dangerously close to having his vacation terminated on a permanent basis.
You should be reading this series. Gulok is one of the more interesting fictional characters I have encountered recently, and his employment situation is an intriguing one. He is described at one point as a “team player of one,” which fits him nicely. Additionally, Kanfer occasionally drops into the mix a brief vignette highlighting Gulok’s rough upbringing in the Arctic. He never does this gratuitously; each and all circle back into what is happening in the present. Best of all, Kanfer has at least one more book --- and hopefully many more --- planned for the series. Both installments thus far, particularly THE ESKIMO HUNTS IN MIAMI, are quick reads, wholly engrossing and quietly unforgettable. What’s not to love here?
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 21, 2013