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The Cuban Affair

Review

The Cuban Affair

After two tours in Afghanistan, Daniel “Mac” MacCormick has been through hell, so he knows what it looks like. He had hoped that was all behind him, but he may be about to visit hell again, only this time with different scenery.

Mac tried the nine-to-five gig for a while and found it wasn’t the right fit for him, so he is now living the good life in Key West, where the pace is perfect and the women are plentiful. That’s important to a healthy guy in his mid-30s. His days are easy. He hangs out in the Green Parrot when he’s not captaining his 42-foot fishing boat. All in all, Mac is pretty happy. Unfortunately, the good life doesn’t come cheap. The loan on The Maine alone will take him years, maybe decades, to pay off, if he can manage to stay afloat that long. So, when a Miami lawyer named Carlos wants to meet with him about a special charter, let’s say Mac is mildly curious. And, in truth, he might be longing for adventure.

"You simply can’t beat Nelson DeMille for an entertaining read. His wry humor by itself is enough to keep me turning the pages, but THE CUBAN AFFAIR, like all of his thrillers, starts with intrigue and ratchets up the pace with every chapter."

Carlos spins a tale that Mac doesn’t quite buy: something about a fishing tournament in Cuba, with maybe a little side business, too. The money sounds good, but the job doesn’t. So to try to convince Mac, Carlos suggests meeting his clients, asking that he table his decision until after speaking face to face. Well, the clients are an old guy, Eduardo Valazquez, and a beautiful young woman, Sara Ortega. As suspected, the charter involves more than participation in the Pescando Por la Paz tournament.

Eduardo’s mission is all things anti-Castro. Sara’s is more personal. Her grandfather fled Cuba before the revolution but managed to hide 60 million dollars he took out of the bank he owned. It’s just waiting for them down there in a cave. Help her retrieve it, and Mac is in for some big bucks. Sara also has the philanthropic goal of returning property deeds and contents of safe deposit boxes to whichever account holders can be located. Well, Mac sees a beautiful woman and future riches and doesn’t really think with the brains he was given. His ship’s mate Jack, also a combat veteran but with more years and more wisdom, points this out to him. Naturally, Mac ignores him and opts in.

The clients’ plan sounds simple enough --- at least the parts they’ve told Mac. Of course, it’s not airtight. One little hitch might be that the Cuban government is not especially fond of Americans. And if Mac expects them to play by the same rules as back home, he needs to forget about that. Anyway, the plan involves Jack and crew sailing the boat down to Cuba for the tournament while Mac and Sara join a group of Yalies on an educational tour. A big problem they face is that the daily tour itinerary is not optional. They must attend every activity on the schedule --- no variations, no wandering off alone. Any absence causes suspicion.

Actually, many things cause suspicion in Cuba, where snitches seem to be everywhere, just waiting to rat someone out to the police. So, once they’re in Havana, getting away from the tour to reclaim the 60 million dollars begins to look problematic. And, once they get away from the tour, it really is problematic. Mission impossible? Maybe, maybe not. Has Sara come totally clean with Mac, or has she withheld critical information? As he comes to realize, love is blind. Sleeping with your client isn’t always a good idea.

You simply can’t beat Nelson DeMille for an entertaining read. His wry humor by itself is enough to keep me turning the pages, but THE CUBAN AFFAIR, like all of his thrillers, starts with intrigue and ratchets up the pace with every chapter. Daniel MacCormick is like John Corey’s (introduced in PLUM ISLAND) younger cousin. He has the sarcasm, wit and bravado, but, of course, is an entirely different man. I hope to see much more of him in upcoming novels. In addition to swift plotting and an exciting new character, DeMille whisks us around Havana for a sneak peek at the city, bits of its history, its relationship to Hemingway, and its modern stark realities. THE CUBAN AFFAIR is another winner for this top-notch author.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on September 21, 2017

The Cuban Affair
by Nelson DeMille

  • Publication Date: September 19, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1501101722
  • ISBN-13: 9781501101724