Friday, January 31, 2014

Castigo Cay by Matt Bracken

So, this book had just a touch of flavor which reminded me of John Ringo's Ghost series, especially the episodes which took place in the Florida Keys and Caribbean, for obvious reasons. Dan Kilmer is a former Marine who dropped out of school and inherited a sixty foot sailing vessel named Rebel Yell when his uncle dropped dead during its refitting. He has gone full expat, as returning to the States would probably put him in a world of hurt with the IRS, since he failed to pay Homeland Security for his exit visa and security bond or the IRS for his national medical plan (which he didn't use, but still owes). Plus, the economy is in the toilet in the ConUS in the near future where this novel is set, and in many places the police and surveillance state is in full swing. He's gotten by with odd jobs and small cons for a couple of years, just living the life of a boat bum in warm climates. He has a couple of crew members, a German-trained doctor, Victor Aleman and a (possibly formerly North) Vietnamese cook, Tran Hung, who help him out, and take a share of any profits.

And there are always boat bunnies. When his latest squeeze, an aspiring Argentinian model named Cori, jumps ship for a bigger yacht owned by billionaire Richard Prechter because Dan isn't getting her to Miami fast enough for her ambitions, he pretty much takes it in stride. Until, of course, another boat bum named Nick Galloway, a former Army Ranger, alerts him that very bad things may be happening to girls who go off with Prechter. The two of them join forces to go after Prechter on his yacht, Topaz, and find the secret villain's lair he is building on an island, Castigo Cay, that's supposed to be a protected environment - Can you say Dr. No?

The chase leads them from Castigo Cay to Fort Lauderdale, with a stop along the way to exchange some kruggerands for a very fast cigarette boat which will get them there. Dan makes contact with some old friends who owe him a favor in Fort Lauderdale, and then enlists the aid of one of their neighbors, the resourceful college student, Kelly Urbanzik, to create false IDs for them as they trail the evil billionaire. Prechter is speaking at an environmental conference, since his company survives on government grants for green energy and other boondoggles. While attending the conference in disguise, Dan befriends another coed working a sales booth, Brooke Tierstadt, also one of Prechter's targets. As one might expect, she ends up kidnapped and on a fast boat to Castigo Cay, too. When Prechter and his minions get back on the yacht and head for the Cay for fun and games, Dan and company go hot pursuit, to rescue the distressed damsels and save the world for democracy...not so much.

Not as much action as one would hope, but what there was is fast and bloody. Pretty certain the way things settle out at the end that we're in for a sequel or two. Dan doesn't seem to have the Kildar's kinks, and the sex is mostly implied and off screen. The story did make me want to buy a boat and head for the Bahamas.

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