I met Alan Petersen at a “meetup” group in San Francisco designed to help authors make the most of Amazon and other book-marketing tools. He ran a great meeting, so naturally I decided to head straight for his thriller, The Asset, which is selling quite well. After reading it, I say it deserves those sales and more.
Pete Maddox is a special ops vet with a bright CIA career ahead of him. The book opens with an exciting Colombian anti-terrorist operation which Maddox heads up and which goes without a hitch. Next thing, he’s named station chief in Venezuela just as Hugo Chavez comes into power. Petersen was raised in Central and South America, and it shows in his knowledge of the geography right down to the highways and back-alley byways of Caracas as well as the integration of Spanish into the narrative and dialogue.
In the course of building his organization in, Maddox runs across a sexy real estate agent whom he makes responsible for locating and renting houses for embassy personnel as well as safe-houses for various operators. She becomes a very useful CIA “asset,” and Maddox does the forbidden–falls in love with her. A fine romantic step, but not the best career move.
A plot to overthrow Chavez develops, an operation the CIA can no longer support in the same way it could during the good old Allende days of Chile, but something they’d like to see succeed. Maddox and his colleagues give what support they can and develop a parallel operation to squelch an incipient Libyan training camp to which Chavez has provided clandestine support.
Petersen handles complex details of plot and firearms and explosives smoothly, and the suspense is taut from one end of the story to the other. Except for what I thought was a slightly uneven ending and some abrupt POV shifts, I thought The Asset belongs right up there with the Patterson and Childs works. New one coming out soon. Don’t miss it.