4 out of 4 stars
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Max Burns and Godfredo Roco had been good friends during their school days. The sudden and unfortunate passing of Max's parents only helped to strengthen their bond. Like many childhood friends though, they drift apart over the years as their lives get busy and hold more responsibility. An expansion of the Panama Canal provides an opportunity to reunite them. Max, now a geomatic engineer, would be the perfect person to lead a team of people to create a design for the new expansion. Godfredo and his father, Paco Roco, who own CISCO Construction, could really use the business if they were to win the bid. They will go up against several countries, including the Americans, to win the bin for the best technical design and budget. Yet like anything that involves politics and money, nothing is clear cut. Who is an informant for who? Where will the money come from? And most important of all, who can we blame it on if it all goes wrong?
Christoph Martin creates an engaging and convoluted plot that kept me guessing from beginning to end. While the plot was intense, involving politics, fraud, and international affairs, I could follow the storyline and enjoyed guessing where things would lead next. The Expansion included many twists and surprises that allowed the book to be captivating and unpredictable throughout.
I enjoyed the characters of Max Burns and Karis Deen the most. Despite parents who have made some poor choices, Max chooses a more honest and humble future for himself. He is brilliant, kind, and easy to relate to. Karis Deen, on the other hand, is more mysterious. For half of the book, you are wondering what she is and who she works for. Karis also has a difficult childhood but is able to create a better future for herself.
While there wasn't anything that I disliked about this book, I was a little surprised about the very end. Everything seemed to be wrapping up, and then the last couple sentences caught me off guard. It was so little to go on that it felt like a poorly done cliffhanger. I wondered if my book was somehow missing a chapter.
Despite that small confusion, I wouldn't rate this book anything less than 4 out of 4. Martin's fast-paced novel does not disappoint. I found no issues with editing. There was some vulgar language and sexual content, but nothing excessive. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fictional plots about politics, government, or international affairs. While these are not subjects that I usually seek for myself in books I read, I still really enjoyed the book. After reading this book, I understand why it received Book of the Year at Online Book Club.
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