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Goodbye Mexico Hardcover – April 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Former Marine and CIA agent Jennings returns with a riotous sequel to his acclaimed Vietnam farce Nam-A-Rama (2005). It's 1973 and the CIA has posted the naïve, earnest Jack Armstrong (back from Nam-A-Rama) to Mexico City, where he receives a surprising visit from former best friend and colleague Gerard Gearheardt—surprising because Gearheardt was last seen in the burning wreckage of a helicopter in the Laotian jungle in 1969. The Phoenix-like Gearheardt recruits a reluctant Armstrong for the following scheme: assassinate the Mexican president, blame it on Castro and use the resulting outrage as cover for taking over Cuba (which Gearheardt plans to rename Pussy Galoreland and give to the International Sisterhood of Prostitutes as a refuge). Meanwhile, the CIA's new chief-of-station in Mexico, Major Crenshaw, rides into town on a burro with his own plan: a devout Catholic, Crenshaw aims to hijack Gearheardt's operation in order to secure Cuba for the Vatican. Lurking in the shadows is the Pygmy, a three-foot tall CIA operative, and the habitually naked Marta Carlingua, a Cuban prostitute who's either a Gearheardt loyalist or a Castro mole. As Gearheardt's Byzantine plot unravels in this gonzo satire of international diplomacy, it's all as obvious as it is exaggerated, and it's very funny. (Apr.)
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"If any book has better depicted the absurd, maddening and duplicitous world of espionage, it's still classified. Complete with pygmies, prostitutes, popes, presidents, naked spies, missing jackets and parking accommodations for burros--Goodbye Mexico reads like a laundry list of must-have items for any American intelligence officer." -Kevin Hazzard, author of Sleeping Dogs
"A riotous sequel . . . very funny." -Publishers Weekly
"This book is almost too funny to be fiction. Phil Jennings' tales of hilarity and criminality are matched only by the front pages of
America's newspapers, and my laughter only stopped when I wondered: could this be true?" --Nathaniel Fick, former U.S. Marine Captain and author of One Bullet Away
"If you've ever wanted to overthrow a Latin American country with the help of a cool, courage-crazy Marine turned CIA agent -- and what man-jack amongst us, hasn't it? -- then you ought to love this book and the immortal characters of Gearhardt and Jack Armstrong. Here's hoping Major Crenshaw succeeds next time -- (and you'll have to read the book to find out what I mean)."
-- H. W. Crocker III, author of Don't Tread on Me: A 400-Year History of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting and the award-winning comic novel The Old Limey
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Top Customer Reviews
Read the two books in the order they were written. I thought Nam-a-Rama a slightly better book, but maybe that's because I'm more interested in Viet Nam than in Mexico.
Intellegence gathered from a completely disreputable source in B-stan suggests that Jennings is writing at least one, and possibly two, more books in the series. The next installment has Gearhardt and Jack's mother eloping in some kind of Harold and Maude over-under action, Can't wait.
Jack Armstrong has been appointed Chief of Station in Mexico City. His vanity overtakes his humility when he fails to recognize that the only reason he could have been appointed to such a post without knowing a lick of Spanish is not that his skills as a CIA agent are second-to-none, but rather must be in some way connected to the facts that (1) his old pal Gearhardt has pulled some strings to place him exactly there, in that position, in Mexico City, at precisely that time, (2) the near future will involve being instrumental in some sort of international conspiracy plot devised by Gearhardt, like, say, for instance, assassinating the president of Mexico and taking over Cuba (while blaming the whole thing on the "bad" Cubans to help out the "good" Cubans), and (3) there will be members of a litany of factions, organizations and countries involved in this plot, including, but not limited to, the good Cubans, the bad Cubans, the Russians, the CIA, the Mexicans, the Colombians, and an errant pygmy or two.
On the subject of The Pygmy, Jennings writes:
"The Pygmy was a legendary CIA agent. A three-foot bronze man who often wore small animal skins and when stressed spoke by making clicking sounds in this throat. The smell of his cooking fires permeated CIA headquarters at Langley. He alternately bounded and crept through the halls of the Agency. As he rose up through the ranks, he developed a small but loyal following, reportedly assembling his own army of dedicated Pygmy troops, whom he used for his own black operations. And they were also a softball team." (p. 35)
Whether Jack will ever come face-to-face with the Pygmy remains a mystery throughout most of the novel; likewise, Jack's ignorance of his present and future situation continues even after Gearhardt shows up and begins to give details of his, or, rather, theirmission. This is because Gearhardt unravels the facts of the plan on a need-to-know basis, throwing in some occasional curve balls when the plan involves Gearhardt's making Jack need-to-know something that isn't true so that he will act in a certain way. As such, the plan unravels with clues and red herrings something like a mystery novel, to both Jack and the reader.
Gearhardt, the ex-marine turned renegade CIA operative who gets his information via teletype from an international network of bordellos and massage parlors, is a comic masterpiece as a character; something of a wisecracking, womanizing Hawkeye Pierce with his zero tolerance for authority, sprinkled with a touch of James Bond and his charms that enable him to cement international connections wherever he steps foot, topped off with a dab of Rambo's ability to handle himself and his need for a mission that involves overwhelming firepower, and covered finally with a Teflon-like layer of cartoonesque bulletproofness.
Phillip Jennings' GoodBye Mexico, his sequel to the 2005 Vietnam farce Nam-A-Rama, is a terrifically funny romp through the world of international espionage, covert operations and nation building. Will the Sisterhood of Prostitutes make all of Cuba a red-light district? Will the "good" Cubans take over Mexico? Or will the Catholic Church take over Cuba? The answers may even surprise Gearhardt.