From Publishers Weekly
In this ambitious, meticulous thriller, Pfarrer's first novel, set in 1967, CIA officer Paul Hoyle travels to Bolivia to participate in an operation to eliminate the leftist revolutionary Che Guevara. As Hoyle descends deeper and deeper into a web of suspect alliances and unsavory types, he begins to have doubts about his mission. His admiration for Guevara is one problem. Another comes in the form of a romance with Maria Agular, who works for a government ministry. Unfortunately, this romance never rises above cliché ("not only did they delight in making love, they enjoyed each other's company"). Far more convincing is Guevara's relationship with his lover "Tania" (Heidi Tamara Vünke). Pfarrer, an ex-Navy Seal and author of the memoir Warrior Soul
, is unwilling or unable to give the iconic figure of Guevara a personal life that feels lived in or comfortable. Still, the action moves forward at a brisk pace, and the research never overwhelms the reader. If the novel falters somewhat in the last pages, it's precisely because of the failure to fully imagine Guevara the private individual. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* CIA "contractors" get the least desirable jobs, and Paul Hoyle gets the least of the least. It's 1967, and the cold war is hot in many places, but Hoyle is in the Bolivian bush to verify the identity of two bodies found in the jungle. Then he meets Smith, who arrives to crush a Communist guerrilla movement, and he learns that their target is the charismatic Che Guevara. Author Pfarrer, a successful screenwriter of action films, is also a former Navy SEAL, and he has written a superior first novel. It has fully fleshed characters, both real and fictional, plenty of action, a tender but fated love affair, interesting bits of tradecraft from spying and soldiering, beaucoup betrayals, an authentic-sounding realpolitik, and a palpable sense of jungle warfare and immoral Third World government. His Che, based on Che's diaries and much other research, is almost as fascinating as the legend of Che: a skinny, asthma-ridden man with messianic tendencies and a gift for leadership. Hoyle wears his honor on his sleeve, and the reader is left to hope that he emerges with his skin. Thomas GaughanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved