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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

‘Behind the Text’ 8 ‘CUBAN RUMMY’

‘Behind the Text’_8_ ‘CUBAN RUMMY’
Sucked into the maelstrom


Cuban Rummy’ was published in 2012,  Book 4 in sequential order, and set in 1957 Cuba, where the government is being challenged by Marxist rebels under Fidel Castro. It has a strong opening (in which a man is facing a shotgun on a cliff-top & doesn’t know why) and a gentle final paragraph. In the 60,000 words in between the Reader will encounter some of the nastiest villains in the whole ‘Jonas Forbes Saga’, a diplomat more concerned with medieval Spanish poetry than doing his job and a colleague resorting to out-dated American patois. Then there are two female rivals over Jonas Forbes (though he isn’t really the lucky fellow he believes), the CIA alarmed at the potential overthrow of an ally but uncertain whether he deserves support, and mass hysteria over a series of child murders.

1957 was a crucial year in Cuban history because Fidel Castro landed with a boatful of followers – including Ché Guevara who graces these pages - and Batista’s army missed their only chance of stamping him out. It was a year in which the USA, having seen the USSR set a big footprint in Egypt, woke up to the fear that Communism might find a similar centre in the Americas. It was a year in which the UK in creating an independent Ghana underscored its steady retreat from world power & its diplomats were treated accordingly.
An unsavoury record in Whitehall records continues to undermine Jonas Forbes, even though the chief source of such malicious rumours has been forced into early retirement. However, Jonas Forbes has acquired the services of Vanessa Clarke as his ‘Girl Friday’, although she'd scream at such a term as well as often later regretting her decision to abandon her Whitehall career.

What appeals to me on reading this thriller – remembering that I wrote it chiefly for my own enjoyment? Jonas again leaves his brain in his trousers but this time far longer than any logical thinking would warrant. He’s interviewed by two contrasting historical figures – Meyer Lansky, ‘the Mob’s Accountant’ & entrepreneur, and Ché Guevara, rebel and future martyr for the cause. Then there’s the hunt for the corpse of a murder victim uncovered & then hidden away again. A lighter moment is how DI Wyatt’s patience gets stretched by both the UK Embassy staff & Col. Raul Cortez, the notorious Intelligence Officer.
Having been kidnapped in ‘Scrambling South’ Jonas repeats the experience, although it’s much more pleasurable this time thanks to Conchita Mendoza y Lobos. Again he upsets Embassy staff, so clearly believes that is to be his role in life.

This thriller might be upsetting for ‘those of a delicate disposition'. And if you’re puzzled by my title, believe me it’s well justified on several levels.

Next, the much more savoury plot of Jonas being hunted across Europe by the Mafia.

Bob Hyslop 

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