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A little disappointing. It was more of a romance novel than a thriller.

The Cuban Affair: A Novel - Nelson DeMille

The Cuban Affair, Nelson DeMille, author; Scott Brick, narrator

Daniel Mac Cormick, in his mid thirties, owns the fishing boat, The Maine. He is a macho guy, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. His older First Mate, Jack Colby, not as polished as Mac, was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Both, in their separate fields of war, had been injured. When Mac became involved with Cuban Americans, who were decidedly anti-Castro, he was offered an amount of money that was hard to refuse, to  recover and reclaim millions of dollars in documents, jewelry and money that had been hidden in a Cuban cave by a banker, the grandfather of a beautiful woman, who would participate in the recovery. She was Sara Ortega. Mac asked Jack to join him in this possibly dangerous, well-funded clandestine effort to recover property nationalized by Fidel Castro’s Cuban government.

The plan was for Jack to take a group of fisherman to a fishing tournament in Cuba, a tournament that was meant to encourage a warmer relationship between the United States and Cuba. Jack would take this group on The Maine, which would be renamed Fishy Business in order to cover its history in Key West and provide him with an alibi. Mac, on the other hand, would be going to Cuba, presumably on a tour with Yale University. Sara Ortega would be on that same tour, but they would pretend to have never met before. To provide them with their alibi, they were supposed to pretend to become romantically involved when they got there. This is where the novel began to be disappointing. It seemed to devolve from what could have been an action-packed story into nothing more than a romantic escapade.

Although the book was infused with humorous dialogue, an admirable skill of this author, many of the conversations and comments seemed either too melodramatic or too filled with clichés. The story seemed very repetitive and overly long. For the majority of the book, it seemed to go in circles, almost going nowhere, and I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. Near the end, finally, there was some action, but still, it seemed to be more about the budding romance between Sara and Mac than about any kind of thrilling adventure. It seemed to be setting up a series that would follow the two of them into their future.

Although I found the book a bit disappointing, it introduced information I previously knew little about. Apparently, Cuba and Viet Nam had participated in a joint effort in which a group of American POW’s were brought to Cuba and tortured before their deaths. Their bodies were never returned. DeMille also inserted his political views into the narrative, indicating his distaste for the CIA and some of its methods, of which I had not been aware.  Even Ernest Hemingway made an entrance with interesting little tidbits about him dropped here and there into the story. Still, I felt that far better than the book, was the narration. Scott Brick does an amazing job interpreting the novels of DeMille and this one was no exception.