Bestselling author W.E.B. Griffin (with more than 35 novels in print) offers us his new creation The Hunters (the third ponderous installment in his Presidential Agent series) which continues where The Hostage left off with U.S. Army Major Carlos “Charley” Castillo fumbling about South America and Europe as he troubleshoots out of control situations for the President. In this his latest episode Castillo and his crew of specialists are in Uruguay trying to figure out who ordered the murder of Jean-Paul Lorimer (an American diplomat who had also established a second identity for himself in Uruguay as Jean-Paul Bertrand, a Lebanese national and a dealer in antiquities) who was under suspicion of various international crimes and focuses on the UN “oil for food” scandal.

The story begins in the period of post 9-11, with the Office of Homeland Security firmly in place and the Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Charles W. Montvale, resenting Castillo’s presidential appointment as Chief of Organizational Analysis. Despite this, however, Castillo steam rolls ahead with this task beginning with a visit to Estancia Shangi-La in Uruguay. Castillo’s mission is to determine the true identity of Bertrand and bring him back to the US but almost immediately Castillo’s group finds themselves under fire from unknown assailants. Finding Bertrand murdered Castillo’s men return fire with deadly accuracy, killing all six unknown, masked assailants.At the end of this heated battle Castillo finds and takes into possession bank notes worth an estimated sixteen million dollars, proof that Bertrand accepted bribe money for his part in the “oil for food” scandal. Meanwhile since Castillo has duel citizenship in both Germany and America he is able to involve his extensive international family in the operation.

Interestingly, the sheer numbers of military personnel, civil servants, diplomats, journalists, and ambassadorial types make for an extensive cast of characters who when all the puzzle pieces are fitted together settle into a plausible scenario that uses each of them to bring about a resolution to his mission that proved to involve blackmail, money-laundering, and espionage.

In my opinion the characters of Charley Castillo and Jake Torine are well drawn but the various meetings and travel detail could have been abridged so that more action scenes could have been included. Additionally, while I think the book deserves three stars and that many males would find it a decent read I feel that Griffin violated one of the first rules of writing involving descriptive narrative which is that the reader should be able to visualize a scene without having it explained to him.

[tags]book review, W.E.B. Griffin, The Hunters, Military, Homeland Security, espionage, murder, suspense[/tags]