Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: 'American for Sale' by Chuck Van Soye

Chuck Van Soye keeps taking on new writing challenges, perhaps influenced by his background of serving as a chemical engineer, a participant in the sales and marketing aspect of business, and as an editor and writer for McGraw-Hill. He has written countless articles on various subjects from fact to fiction, from intrigue to expose of government and prison reform, from armchair musings on life, to science fiction fantasy. His writing style is straightforward, no pretense, easily readable and accessible, and able to blend intrigue with warm humor.

Keeping up with Chuck proves a challenge. It feels as though he is in a series now (a grand idea!) because of the manner in which he introduces this timely book. ‘Who is Bret Lee, the main character of this book? Unless you’ve read my novel SPY MATES, I’m sure you don’t have the faintest idea. So allow me to briefly introduce him. Bret Lee is an unassuming middle-age American man who loves his country and his family in equal measure. He could very well be your next door neighbor, and you’d like him a lot. He’s a no-nonsense, let’s-get-it-done, kind of guy that always seems to turn up with a good idea when you need help the most. He’s also an ex-spy of sorts, but you’d never know it, since he’s a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Maryland. Not many years before, through a chain of unanticipated events, he found himself, and ultimately his lovely Chinese wife Chu-Lin and their children, enmeshed in a dangerous undercover position in Caracas, Venezuela. In short, he was a secret agent. But he’s no 007. Yet thanks to his superior intellect and the few superb CIA skills he acquired, Bret and Chu came out winners of a volatile game of cat-and-mouse involving foremost Chinese and Venezuelan government and military leaders. The Lee’s coveted prize for winning the game -- to get back home to Maryland and enjoy being ordinary citizens again. They were . . . for awhile . . .‘ Pure Van Soye! So where does that take us? The synopsis is excellent, quoted here:

‘Bret Lee, an American college professor, traveling with his wife by plane across China gets kidnapped for ransom at an intermediate stop. When the incompetent thugs holding him are unable to find anyone to redeem their prisoner, they sell Bret to a buyer in Karachi, Pakistan. The buyer turns a quick profit by reselling the captive to the Islamic State, where Bret ends up in a makeshift prison near Raqqah, Syria. He’s put on the auction block for $10 million, with the understanding that if not sold promptly, ISIS will publicly execute him. Later, deep within the Iraqi desert, Bret meets a sexy female Peshmerga fighter returning to Kurdistan from a spy mission. They join forces but are soon challenged by an ISIS patrol. A firefight erupts, the girl is wounded, but somehow Bret gets her to Kurdistan, where they both are treated as heroes. He returns to his home in Maryland where he rejoins his wife, planning to resume teaching. However, they are challenged by a government intelligence boss to return to Syria on a hazardous mission: to stop the civil war and terminate ISIS. Both accept, and leave for Damascus.’

And if that doesn’t lead into Book 3 – then we will all be disappointed. Chuck Van Soye must be enjoying his grow audience. Grady Harp, May 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.