There is no denying that Nelson DeMille is a master of action, thrillers, and debatably-good one-liners. He also makes for a rather good globetrotter reporting on locales that the normal traveler probably doesn’t have at the top of their bucket list: Russia, Yemen, and now, Cuba. However, the one problem with niche writers is that their beloved style can sometimes be encapsulating. New stories might be enjoyable, neo-noir reads, but are not necessary the freshest.
The Cuban Affair, DeMille’s latest, drops Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, ex-Ranger now sea captain, directly into the Obama-era “Cuban Thaw” where he is hired to help Cuban dissidents in recovering pre-Castro property deeds, and maybe a whole ton of cash, all while trying to escape from Havana. Mac is a fun, archetypal DeMille alpha male. He prefers beer to wine, one-liners to pillow-talk, and has the libido of a seventeen-year-old. Mac is a good guy, and someone you would want on your side in a fight. Or a good game of cornhole. Yet, he is hardly original. In fact, the name “Daniel MacCormick” could easily be replaced with DeMille regulars “John Corey” or “John Sutter” and aside from environment settings, no one would be the wiser.
DeMille, of course, knows his audience and easily provides that which has made him popular. The Cuban Affair is a fun, thankfully-fast read that allows DeMille to postulate Cuba’s place in the current global community while making sure good ole Communism is still the go-to baddie with the CIA remaining as the slightly lesser of two evils. As original as the Caribbean setting is, the infiltrate-and-escape plot is certainly not. DeMille peppers the chase with fun characters and clever dialogue, but even that only has the appeal of a Corona Light, when the long-time fan is thirsty for a cuba libre. Right?
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the ARC, as well as to Nelson DeMille, who remains one of my favorite authors and with whom I would share a Corona at anytime.