Misdirection has long been a theme of thrillers where cross and double cross are the rule and not the exception.  That is certainly true here in a novel that shows just how easy it is to cause economic havoc and military action.

Miguel Escalante, who has a family history of hating the guerrilla movement in Columbia, has become a dedicated intense soldier in the Columbian Army.  He sees his future with one goal in mind – “to utterly destroy Columbia’s insurgent enemies.” (Page 10) Ana Restrepo has the same feelings as the beautiful reporter for a weekly Columbian News Magazine.  With Miguel being lauded as a hero, she is assigned to interview him.  Soon, the mutual attraction both feel blossoms into romance at the same time forces are unleashed that will rock their world.

Far to the north, a plan is hatched to attack Love Field Airport located in Dallas.  Hostages will be taken in a brutal attack before the Captain is forced to fly the 737 from the airport. With a flight plan to Columbia and a load of false clues for the government the hostages soon become a focal group for numerous groups seeking world wide attention.

While the basic premise of the book is intriguing, the execution of the work is not close to the grandeur of the idea.  At 131 pages, the book falls far short of the space needed to tell a tale so grand in scope or one that requires a cast of characters list at the beginning of the book.  Additionally, the first 35 pages or so are used to set up the detailed back story regarding numerous characters including their political belief systems created by their various childhoods as well as the romance between Miguel and Ana.  Billed as an action /adventure read the novel is exceedly slow to get off the mark.

For the most part character development is shallow and stereotypical.  Of course Miguel is handsome and distinguished.  Of course Ana is stunningly beautiful and she could be the most beautiful woman in all of Latin America if not the world.  One expects such depictions but they extend to other characters, major or minor. Career diplomat and the new American Vice-Counsel stationed in Cartagena, Don Evans, of course hates Columbia, is an idiot, and somehow manages to keep failing upwards as even the President doesn’t realize he is an idiot.  Then, there is the hardworking Jabreel Danies, married with kids, who lives in an apartment on Jim Miller Road in Dallas and is a TSA screener.  He often joked about being gunned down at the airport in an attack and it is no surprise when he dies a few pages later.  There are other examples of unexploited character development as this novel rushes toward conclusion in the Columbian jungle.

Billed on the back cover as “‘the Latin American Tom Clancy'” the work has nothing in connection with Tom Clancy in regards to details.  Beyond the obvious comparison in page counts, the military hardware is not detailed at all.  What detail is used is in regards to the back story and a half dozen characters at the beginning of the novel.

Clearly the author has a grasp of the cultural climate in the area and has attempted to convey that the readers. On that level he did succeed.  His book depicts how too easy it is in the wake of a terrorist attack for this nation to go off in a search and destroy mission that could lead away from the proper targets.  While the novel attempts to do things on a grander scale than it is able to do, it still provides an interesting read that keeps the readers attention.

Flames In The Jungle

By John Cunyus


Large Trade Paperback

ISBN# 0-595-40800-1

131 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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