Hunters Hardcover – Jan 2 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Griffin's ponderous third Presidential Agent novel picks up where the previous entry, The Hostage, left off, following U.S. Army Maj. Carlos "Charley" Castillo, a troubleshooter who takes orders directly from the president, as he fumbles about in South America and Europe. Castillo and his crew of specialists are trying to figure out who ordered the murder of American diplomat Jean-Paul Lorimer, who was shot to death in Uruguay while under suspicion of various international misdeeds, including a shady food-for-oil conspiracy in Iraq. Long stretches of dialogue and description come across more as showcases for Griffin's knowledge than as solid narrative, while Castillo and his cohorts never rise beyond their assigned roles. Fans will miss the more captivating heroes of Griffin's Brotherhood of War or the Corps series. Author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Presidential agent Charley Castillo returns for another high-concept adventure. In Uruguay, a man is murdered before he can spill the secrets of an elaborate scam aimed at destroying the international reputation of the U.S. Fortunately, the ever-resourceful Castillo seems to have an unlimited number of tricks up his sleeve, and he always manages to keep one step ahead of the game. Though it lacks the punch of some of Griffin's wildly popular military thrillers (the Brotherhood of War series, for example), the Castillo novels offer timely plots and enough firepower to keep the action-adventure crowd happy. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Carlos Castillo continues to build his team with the best people he can find, from the various intelligence agencies, as well as the military. I love this aspect of his books, because it is so much like true life, where people progress in their careers, or die, and new people join the team.
The hunt for the bad guys crosses many international boundaries, proving that today's intelligence operatives need to be multi-lingual and very intelligent. An agent who only speaks English is no longer an effective agent against international terrorists. Hungarian, Russian, German, Spanish and English were the languages of choice for most of this operation. You have to read to the end, to find out who all the good guys and bad guys really are. Carlos Castillo and his growing band of experts move from country to country, progressing through firefights that reveal bad guys at the highest levels.
As with any Griffin book, the winners are the people who have both the intellignece to analyze complex data, and the strength of character to act on it. In addition to people with military and intelligence skills , Castillo's team now has: a financial analyst (with the financial and computer expertise to track billions of dollars through the labyrinth of secret international bank accounts); a newspaperman (with the instincts and contacts to uncover bad guys at the highest levels); and Max (who can actually smell bad guys).
For me, this book was as exciting and fast moving as Mr. Griffin's books on WWII, Korea and Vietnam, with so much action that you feel like you are in the middle of a declared war.
This new series continues to highlight Griffin's contacts with, and knowledge of, the modern military and intelligence communities. Although he points out some infighting between government agencies, he also points out that there are good people in every agency, and if they work together, they can stop the bad guys. The book deals with heroes from Homeland Security, the Diplomatic Corps, the FBI, the CIA, Special Forces, and other US military units, as well as like-minded patriots in Argentina, Germany and Uruguay.
WEB Griffin is truly the dean of American military story tellers, and this book reveals his understanding of the complex relationship that exists between varous intelligence organizations, as well as the military.
I enjoyed the first Presidential Agent book, By Order of the President. I have become a fan of Griffin's excellent Badge of Honor series in the past few years as well. However, the only reason I finished The Hunters was my own stubborness. I will think twice before spending (wasting?) the time to read the next adventure of Charley and company.
Happily, Griffin's name alone appears on "The Hunters" and the story has many Griffin trademarks.
Charley Castillo is made chief of the Office of Organizational Analysis, which is created by a Presidential Finding; a secret order from the President. With a few handpicked colleagues - and quite a collection they are - Castillo tries to solve the murder of an American consular official, the attempted murder of an old family friend, a newspaper publisher in Europe and unravel the secrets of the Oil-for-Food scandal.
This is classic Griffin. Characters whizzing in and out. There's Aleksandr Pevsner, a shadowy Russian ex-patriate. A bunch of folks from the FBI, Secret Service, NSA, Special Forces, Delta Team play out their roles, as well as Castillo's grandmother and cousin.
The action flies fast and furious on every page as Castillo makes up his own rules, ignores the law, does battle with the National Director of Intelligence. On his side, of course, he has the President.
I'm not about to spoil the pleasure of a Griffin novel by discussing the plot line. Aone of the pleasures of reading Griffin is that every page delivers a new twist - and I am not about to ruin anything.
Griffin does tend to talk too much in this novel; many points are repeated over and over without purpose. A small criticism. Maybe they changed editors on him or something.
In any event, if you like Griffin, then you want to read "The Hunters". Be prepared to set an evening or two aside because once you start, you aren't going to want to put it down until you are finished.
Post-9/11, the Office of Homeland Security is in place. The Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Charles W. Montvale, resents Castillo's presidential appointment as Chief Officer of Organizational Analysis. Montvale would rather supervise Castillo but accepts the President's wishes for the time being. Amidst subtle reminders that Montvale requires constant updates on his progress, Castillo steams ahead with his task.
The action begins at Estancia Shangri-La in the Republic of Uruguay. Castillo and his small band arrive at the sprawling "big house" in time to find target Jean-Paul Bertrand, holder of a Lebanese passport. Bertrand's real identification is that of Jean-Paul Lorimer, who is suspected of heavy involvement in the oil-for-food scandal. Bertrand's sister had been kidnapped and drugged, and her husband was murdered before her eyes in order to drive home the serious intent of her tormenters. Castillo's mission is to determine the true identity of Bertrand and bring him back to the United States. By the time Castillo's group enters the man's office, they are under fire from unknown assailants. Bertrand has been murdered, and their Special Ops training kicks into place. Castillo's men return fire with deadly accuracy, killing all six unknown, dark-clothed, masked assassins.
Before exiting, one of their own is dead, garroted by an unidentified individual. The garrote is much like the ones used by the Stasi or KGB agents in Cold War times. Castillo finds and takes into possession a sheaf of colored bank-type notes, proof that Bertrand accepted bribe money for his part in the scandal. Sixteen million dollars, when signed by the bearer, can be deposited into an off-shore bank account. Bertrand is dead and has not been identified as Lorimer. With the President's approval, Castillo establishes a bank account for his Office of Operational Analysis; Castillo's web expenditure is the purchase of an airplane.
Meanwhile, Castillo's extensive international family becomes involved in the operation. His mother was German, which gives him exclusive German citizenship and a passport stamped as "Herr Gossinger." He is heir to Tages Zeitung, the largest German daily newspaper, and is its Washington correspondent. Eighty-two-year-old Hungarian Eric Kocian --- Castillo's adopted uncle and editor-in-chief of the paper --- is deep into the investigation of the oil-for-food scandal and targeted by unknown assailants in Budapest.
Castillo's American connection is by way of his father, a Huey pilot who had not yet married his mother. Upon her death, his dad's family, complete with an American passport, brought the boy to live in Texas.
Griffin writes with gusto and rich characters, brimming near-calamities at the precipice with drama. Action moves from one locale to another with breakneck speed. When Castillo needs information, he jets to the source with little time lost. His military rank is elevated to that of Major, a fact few in contact with him learn before recognition can be acknowledged. He isn't concerned with the frills of rank or the petty interferences of Ambassador Montvale.
Sheer numbers of military personnel, civil servants in numerous South American countries, diplomats, journalists and ambassadorial types make for a voluminous cast of characters. Each desires a "need to know" relationship with Castillo. However, repetition does not delay the action forward in THE HUNTERS.
When the pieces of the puzzle begin to settle into a playable picture, Castillo uses all of the resources at his command to bring the solution to fruition. At the heart of blackmail, money-laundering and espionage, he sets the finished product before the President. Surprises abound when treacherous identities are revealed. We'll anticipate the next book in this series; THE HUNTERS cannot be finished with the job.
--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.
The second book in this series was a welcome change from many other recent Griffin offerings, in that he didn't spend much of the book having characters make or carry out travel arrangements or order drinks and/or dinner. He also didn't use very much of what I have come to think of in his books as "novel helper." Novel Helper is a narrative device that Griffin master in the past to fill out one novel's worth of plot into two or three books. It works like this, have something notable happen between two characters early in the book. Then, whenever the two characters meet again in the story, or whenever either meets another character, they relate in inordinate detail the events of the first meeting. He would also have characters spend copious amounts of time trying to figure out how they get from point A to point B. Or they spend page after page deciding what they want for dinner or drinks.
As I say, it's unfortunate that Griffin has returned to form with this new Presidential Agent story. It is, literally, more than 450 pages of Charley Castillo making travel arrangements for his merry band, giving orders relating to travel arrangements, or figuring out what everyone wants to eat. There is only maybe 65 or 75 pages where the things actually happen and the story moves forward.
Please, Mr. Butterworth, let's make the next one interesting again.