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Four Days to Veracruz: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Darren Phillips, a major in the Marines, and his wife, Kate, never dreamed they would spend their Mexico honeymoon chasing down drug dealers and crooked federales, but that's precisely what happens in this shoot-and-pursuit thriller. West (Sharkman Six) wastes no time piling up the bodies with gunfights, stabbings, torture and mutilation. Both Darren and Kate are superb athletes, which comes in handy on the four-day adventure that takes them from Acapulco to Veracruz, across miles of deserts and mountains. Kidnapped by drug dealers, Darren and Kate kill their captors and escape with the drug cartel's super-secret, encrypted satellite phone, which they assume is just an ordinary cell phone. The drug cartel wants to retrieve the phone, but so do the CIA and FBI, who have been listening in. Every time Darren and Kate try to call for help, the phone reveals their location to the trackers and assassins following them. As Darren and Kate run for their lives, the CIA and FBI feud over jurisdiction, and the drug lords send an Aztec serial killer and a posse of corrupt cops after them. Meanwhile, ex-Marine Gavin Kelly (the hero of Sharkman Six), sneaks into Mexico to rescue his two friends, but runs into a vengeful DEA agent with a different agenda. The action is frequent and bloody, and the characters are Teflon superheroes whose severe injuries barely slow them down. There's plenty of excitement here, but not much else.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The author, a former marine platoon leader who now works as a commodities trader, follows up his exciting Sharkman Six (2001) with another fast-paced adventure. Essentially an extended chase scene, the novel features a resourceful husband and wife (he's a high-placed military aide, she's an adventure athlete) who, while on vacation, stumble across the hideout of a drug-cartel leader and soon find themselves chased through the Mexican mountains by an assortment of pursuers, including the Mexican police and the CIA. Gavin Kelly, Sharkman Six's star player, makes an appearance here, but this isn't a sequel. Four Days to Veracruz may not be completely original--there are shelves full of thrillers in which the heroes must rely on their wits to evade pursuers who are better equipped and prepared to kill, if necessary--but it is well executed, surprising, suspenseful, and satisfying. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743229827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743229821
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon & Schuster Author Owen West attended Harvard University on an ROTC scholarship and rowed for the nationally ranked varsity heavyweight crew team. He served for six years in the Marine Corps and led an infantry platoon, an infantry company, and a reconnaissance platoon before departing as a captain to attend Stanford Business School. Upon graduation, he joined Goldman, Sachs as an energy trader, and is presently a Managing Director and co-head of the firm's veterans' network.

Owen has taken three leaves-of-absence in his 14 years with Goldman. In 2001, he attempted the North Face of Mount Everest, turning back above 28,000 feet. In 2003, he took a leave of absence and joined 1st Force Reconnaissance Company as fires officer for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004, he embedded with Marines outside Fallujah as a reporter. In 2006-2007, he led a small U.S. advisor team to an Iraqi infantry company on an outpost in Anbar Province.

Owen is an endurance athlete who has completed Ironman Triathlons, week-long adventure races, and 100-mile ultra-marathons. He has represented the United States six times in the Eco Challenge, a 350-mile expedition labeled "the world's toughest race," and has finished as high as 2nd, most recently navigating three Playboy Playmates to the finish line in Borneo.

His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, The Marine Corps Gazette, Proceedings, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, Popular Mechanics, and Topic. His first novel, SHARKMAN SIX, won the Boyd literary award for best military novel of 2001. His second novel, FOUR DAYS TO VERACRUZ, was published in 2003. In 2005, he won the Marine Corps Leadership Essay contest.

Owen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves as a director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

Customer Reviews

I don't remember when a book has motivated me so much!
melanie_duffy
The shear action and drama throughout made you want to marathon read to the end.
Konrad Kern
Lots of suspense, clever manuevering by the characters.
Joseph G. Wick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When they reach the finish line of the New Zealand Eco-challenge, the military aide to the president, marine Major Darren Phillips plans to ask Kate North to marry him. Not long afterward, the duo are in Mexico for their honeymoon.
Kate persuades her husband to "break the rules" and kayak in a feral part of the country far from civilization. However, that takes them to a place where tourists, albeit even perfect physical specimens, do not want to travel without a platoon of Darren's comrades in arms. Drug cartel soldiers assault the duo though Darren and Kate manage to kill the first wave and steal a cell phone. The drug cartel needs that phone back as it is actually an encrypted satellite phone that the CIA and FBI, who have been tapping into it, also want back in the enemy's hands. Every time the duo uses the phone in their trek towards Vera Cruz, the device reveals their location to the assassins chasing after them.
FOUR DAYS TO VERACRUZ is an exciting macho (even with a female co-lead) action thriller that goes full throttle and beyond until the finish as the story line is all high octane energy. Characters from SHARKMAN SIX including the hero of that novel are part of the thrills so those fans of Owen West have more to cheer for the good guys. With a major death toll and a lead couple inhumanly ignoring or instantly healing from severe traumas while trekking in a hostile terrain, fans of this action adventures will want to join the courageous couple on their honeymoon.
Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph G. Wick on February 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author is a Marine, as are most of the "good" characters. So am I, so forgive a bit of prejudice. The main characters are husband and wife: a Marine and an eco-challenge racer (tough couple!) The book is one huge chase of the Marine/eco-runner couple through Mexico by Mexican drug lords, with minor bit parts by their Marine friends. Actually pretty stimulating. This is an excellent, if bloody, adventure on the order of Richard Hannay in 39 Steps. Lots of suspense, clever manuevering by the characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Marchant on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Owen West deserves recognition and praise for this thoroughly effective thriller.

Four Days to Veracruz follows the flight of a couple of endurance athletes who stumble onto the activities of a major drug cartel while honeymooning in Acapulco. They unwittingly pocket a spread-spectrum, GPS-equipped satellite phone which prompts a multilateral manhunt as the cartel, Federales, DEA, CIA, and FBI pursue the couple across Mexico to the Gulf. A background theme of the book is that intelligence agencies may have valid reasons for resisting cooperation.

Owen West's writing and dialog are transparent and carefully crafted. The plot is just complex enough, with multiple threads that provide dramatic relief as needed. The characterization does not reach the level of fine literature, but most of the characters are interesting and original. The overall effect is very cinematic, not unlike (but superior to) my previously favorite thriller, The Bourne Identity.

I was particularly pleased that Four Days to Veracruz is not encumbered by the PC constraints that make so many recent "thrillers" read like Five Year Plans.

My only criticism of the book is that it contains an uncomfortable level of physical suffering and violence described from the victims' perspective. But if you have a taste for high-octane adventure, you will swallow this book whole.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "lawyerboy1533" on May 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read West's first book, Sharkman Six, and have been waiting for his second. Wow. I have to say this is the best book I have read this year and one of the fastest-paced thrillers I have ever read. I read it in two sittings overnight. The plotline is just superb...and the chapters just keep rolling and rolling. If you don't like violence, that's one thing I'd caution you on. But if you want a terrific summer read that isn't dumbed down, read Veracruz. This should be a movie. I sent it to my son, who is in the Marines and currently in Iraq. Top recommendation from someone who reads two books per month.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Konrad Kern VINE VOICE on December 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
See storyline above.
When I started this book I had no idea what I was getting into. The pacing was relentless. The shear action and drama throughout made you want to marathon read to the end. Sure the protagonists seemed to be able to take a lot of pain and punishment, that which would kill the normal man, but the writing was so vivid it made for great escapist fiction.
Highly recommended.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kidd Horn on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
FOUR DAYS TO VERA CRUZ
Owen West
You know summer is here when the Beach Books start arriving. All Beach Books have certain traits in common:
(1) One-dimensional characters, each with an odd quirk or two so we can tell them apart.
(2) Normal citizens facing powerful forces�usually corrupt bureaucrats in league with criminals�and impossible odds.
(3) Numerous sub-plots, casually tossed aside when they become inconvenient.
(4) A miracle windup enabling the good guys to triumph and love to conquer all.
(5) A blending of the above that can produce a book that you will totally forget five days after you read it.
Four Days To Vera Cruz is a Beach Book.
Darren Phillips and Kate North are honeymooners who just happen to be among the best Eco-Challenge racers in the world (see #1 above). How convenient, since they end up fleeing across Mexico on foot, one step ahead of the world�s deadliest drug cartel and the corrupt Mexican Federales (see #2) who are out to kill them.
The cartel killers disappear without explanation after a hundred pages or so (see #3) and the Federales are joined by corrupt American bureaucrats who, for reasons that are never explained, also want to kill them.
Our heroes somehow turn out to be expert killers as well as racers and kill a few dozen people, shoot down a helicopter, and, inexplicably, a dozen dogs and horses (what's up with that?), but before long they are backed up to the edge of a cliff, exhausted, injured, out of food and ammo, being tracked by every American and Mexican government agency known to man, and face-to-face with Mexico�s deadliest mass murderer.
How does it end up? See #4 and #5.
Hey, what can I say? It�s a Beach Book.
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