Monday, July 15, 2019

Book Review: 'Ghost of Africa' by Chuck Van Soye (with Darren Van Soye)

Ghost of Africa by Chuck Van Soye
‘Target not aware of my surveillance’

Florida author 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. This time ‘round Chuck is accompanied by California author Darren Van Soye, a world traveler and IT expert, who happens to be Chuck’s son.

Keeping up with Chuck proves a challenge. This now is Book 3 in his Bret Lee espionage thriller series, and for those for whom this is a first van Soye experience, it seems appropriate to recap the author’s introduction to his main character: ‘‘The heroic protagonist is Bret Lee, an unassuming middle-aged American. He could very well be your friendly next door neighbor who is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Maryland. You’d never know it, but he’s also a part-time spy of sorts. He’s no 007, but thanks to his superior intellect and the few CIA skills he acquired, Bret and his lovely American-born Chinese wife, Chu-lin, have been infrequently persuaded to undertake critical, though unofficial, secret assignments . . . like finding and capturing Jacob Kunga.’

The Prologue to this installment is based on fact – Uganda, 1995, and the atrocities committed by guerillas from the Lord’s Resistance Army, and we meet the ‘ghost of Africa,’ one Jacob Kunga – though with respect to history, the novel that follows is fiction, and what a novel it is.

The synopsis is excellent, quoted here: ‘Bret Lee must capture or kill a terrorist about to shoot down passenger planes. The word among spook circles is that someone wants to buy ten surface-to-air missiles. Known illegal arms sources won’t risk it. Citizen-spy Lee gets recruited to find him and shut him down. His plan is to fool the terrorist into believing that Lee can supply the missiles, if he can be found. Bret play-acts as a rich playboy arms dealer, gambling in Monte Carlo, Macao and South Africa casinos, waiting to “be found” by the terrorist’s associates. Bret’s wife, Chu-lin, plays the logistics and social media role for the gambit back in the states, while Zhu, her brother, joins the field mission as well, acting as Bret’s bodyguard. Bret and Zhu are eventually escorted to a jungle hideout in the Central African Republic for a missile demonstration. The end may be near for the terrorist if Seal Team 7 and the Green Berets have their way.’

This is one solid, immensely entertaining and well-written thriller. Chuck Van Soye, and now with Darren Van Soye, must be enjoying his growing audience.

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.

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