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The Expansion Paperback – May 2, 2017
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I couldn’t put it down. I was fully into the characters and the action of the story. This is not a good start, but a great start for a debut. I want more.
The book gives you a very detailed insight into the political landscape in Panama with its many ties to other players around the world. Loved the depth of the characters, just wished there was a longer storyline involving Sofía.
If you are a fan of political thrillers with the right dose of twists and turns, this book is exactly for you.
I loved every page of this book. Very intriguing and full of unexpected twists!
I enjoyed The Expansion, but I thought that the book had some shortcomings. It was very light on engineering detail; while the history of the canal and the current economic and political climate was nicely filled in, there were no specifics on what the canal’s expansion would actually entail. Would there be new locks or extensions to original ones? Would the canal have to be closed at any point? Is the canal being deepened? These questions were not answered at all, and I found myself disappointed by this lack of detail.
The only characters who are really described in any detail are Max and Godfredo, and for them we only get character descriptions, not physical ones, which were reserved for the female characters in the book. I found it very hard to imagine what Max, in particular, looked like; describing him through Karis’ eyes would have been quite simple to do and it would have really helped the reader visualize the events of the book a lot better.
Ultimately, I felt that the pace of the book was too slow for a thriller, particularly quite a short one. The single murder in the book occurs very late on and until this point, there is very little ‘action’ happening. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the geopolitics of Central America and the history of the Panama Canal, but I regret to say that as a geopolitical thriller, it’s not really all that thrilling.
I reviewed this book for OnlineBookClub.
by Christoph Martin
Clink Street Publishing
Courtesy of NetGalley
The Expansion by Christoph Martin is set in Panama and deals with the expansion of the canal. The original canal, completed in 1914, could not accommodate the modern large ships. The largest ships that could fit were labeled Pana-Max, for maximum size. After years of planning, Panama decided to go ahead with the expansion by building a new set of larger locks next to the original locks.
I was very interested in getting my hands on this book for one simple reason: I was born in the Panama Canal Zone. I am the descendent of one of the original workers. Although I left shortly after the end of fifth grade, my identity begins and ends as a Zonian. I was very curious to see if Mr. Martin could tell a good story and have an accurate Panama a the landscape on which he told it.
So many of the details are good. The oppressive humidity. The food. The mix of languages and customs. The extreme wealth and extreme poverty contained within Panama City. It was recognizable to me.
The main character of the story, Max Burns, is a British engineer who is hired to plan how the new canal will be built. He is hired by his childhood friend Godfredo Roco and his father Paco. Paco is a big league con man. His plan is to win the bid on the canal, start the work, drain off everything he can, declare bankruptcy and blame Max. He plans on doing it far into the project so Panama has no choice but to bail out the project and finish it. Godfredo is aware of some of his father’s plans but not all.
Added to the mix is Karis Deen. When the book starts, Karis is working for the Smithsonian in Panama as a biologist. She is actually a CIA agent is a deep cover project. As the canal project progresses, the US government keeps a wary eye on China who they fear want their own canal in Nicaragua and will try to sabotage the new Panamanian Canal.
The story is interesting. It is not compelling though. I had a hard time with Godfredo and Paco’s characters. They seemed two dimensional. Max seemed naive. All it all, it wasn’t a bad story until the end. The last chapter had me scratching my head. The book ended very abruptly, I mean VERY abruptly. I turned back and forth several times on my device trying to figure out where the conclusion of the story went. I am not sure if this is to be a series or not. If it is, the ending needs to get fixed or readers will not stick around for the next one.