When the American ambassador to Italy, a bungling political appointee with a dubious personal reputation, is brutally murdered in Rome, the Washington bureaucracy is quick to label it a politically-motivated terrorist killing. But, mid-level diplomat Bob Innes, who is thrust into the middle of the mess, thinks it’s a different thing altogether, and in his efforts to prove his thesis, finds himself targeted by bureaucrats attempting to cover up malfeasance, and the Russian mob.
Permanent Interests by best-selling author James Bruno is a compelling story of bureaucracy at its worst, the back-room deals that make Washington the quagmire it is, and how crime and political greed intersect. Underlying non-stop, graphic action there is also a story of human dignity, decency, and love, in a story that will keep you reading from page one.
While I found the description of the Marine Security Guards who stand watch at our embassies a bit off—the commander of the Marine guards is usually a senior sergeant, not a major as Bruno depicts in his story—the story pins the tail very accurately on the bureaucrats in Washington and elsewhere who are often more concerned with their next promotion than in actually doing something useful. Bruno writes about these things with credibility and a ring of authenticity. Sure, it’s fiction. After all, it is a political thriller. But, take it from someone who has worked there, it’s not all that far from the truth. A five star thriller!
When I received a free review copy of James Bruno’s Havana Queen, I looked forward to reading it. Already familiar with Bruno’s writing skills from the time he served as head of the political section of the American Embassy in Hanoi in the late 1990s, I knew for sure he would know what he was talking about in a story of international intrigue. The only question in my mind, having not read any of his previous fiction, was whether or not he could translate the skill in drafting compelling analytical reports into a credible work of fiction.
I need not have worried. He batted a clean thousand. In this nail-biting story, FBI agent Nick Castillo, a Cuban-American immigrant, finds himself in the middle of momentous events in the failing socialist state as forces for change imperil the Castro regime. With the kind of knowledge only an insider could possess, combined with a skill in weaving a story that reads like it could have been ripped from the Washington Post, Bruno introduces us to anti-communist revolutionaries, brutal dictators scrambling for power, moles inside our own government, and scheming and murder that spans continents.
Havana Queen engages all the reader’s senses – from its gritty portrayal of Havana’s slums to the sterile confines of Washington cubicles where spies and bureaucrats go about their seemingly mundane tasks; often with deadly outcomes.
If you’re a fan of the international thriller written with authority and credibility, don’t miss this book. It will leave you panting and wanting more.