2 out of 4 stars
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When two armed men mistake Paul Pilot’s boat for another boat and attack him and his friend Carl, Paul investigates and stumbles upon a dangerous operation being carried out on a similar boat and finds himself working as an FBI mercenary to uncover and put an end to a coffee cartel that may very well be the greatest threat the world has ever known. The Coffee Cartel by Paul H. Barrett is a fictional crime thriller published by iUniverse in 2019. The setting of the book spans across several locations, from Cuba to Kenya to Brazil to Washington, DC.
The most captivating aspect of the book to me, if not the only one, is the plot itself. The author’s choice to locate the mastermind and his operations in the least expected places such that the plot might have successfully been carried out if Paul had not fallen into luck as he did is just brilliant. Even more brilliant is the idea of growing coffee beans that is modified by the presence of molecularly altered cocaine with a view to gaining control of the world by causing a worldwide addiction to a particular brand of coffee.
Despite the great potential of the book, considering the plot, the author’s execution of the unfolding of events was not impressive. As much as I was interested in the plot, I was bored with the book most of the time for a number of reasons. First, the book does not seem like it was professionally edited. The paragraphing is very badly done, and this is what I dislike most about the book. Whole conversations are lumped together in paragraphs such that a single paragraph contains the direct speeches of the characters present and speaking at the time. This is something I have never seen done in a published book as every character’s perspective or speech should be a separate and independent paragraph.
Also, punctuations are wrongly used or totally missing. Examples of wrong use of punctuations in the book are the use of question mark instead of full stop in the second paragraph of page 5, the use of full stop within a sentence towards the end of the third paragraph of page 51 and the wrong use of quotation mark within the same person’s speech in the same paragraph on the tenth line of page 192. Quotation marks are totally missing in sentences in the first paragraph of page 185 and the second paragraph of page 245. Commas before coordinating conjunctions that join independent clauses are absent, for example, in the last paragraph of page 291 (‘…I said and Sara and I turned…’ should have a comma before the first ‘and’) and the fourth paragraph of page 257 (‘We made it back and we’re ready…’ should have a comma before ‘and’). Typographical errors, wrong use of capitalisation, spelling errors and wrong use of tenses are additional editing problems the book has. For example, ‘President of these United States’ should be ‘the’ on page 301; ‘Viet Nam’ should be ‘Vietnam’ on page 247; ‘President trump’ should be spelled with uppercase ‘T’ on page 303; “I Do” should be written with lowercase ‘d’ on page 163; ‘altar’ is wrongly spelled as ‘alter’ twice on page 162; ‘lie’ is used instead of ‘lay’ on pages 31 and 49; and ‘get’ is used instead of ‘got’ on pages 225 and 257.
Other than editing issues, I also got discouraged by the overly detailed approach to the narration as well as the manner in which aspects of the book were portrayed. For a retired FBI agent, Paul Pilot is portrayed as unable to keep covert FBI operations confidential as he easily and consistently discloses such operations to his love interest whom he only just met. Such quality in the protagonist downplays the importance of the mission and makes it feel fake, but the author includes nothing in the book indicating that such a quality present in an FBI agent is threatening or even unusual. In addition, reactions of characters to events are too flat, the romance featured in the book feels rushed, and so much weirdness is written into erotic scenes that it might be better to not have those scenes at all. Although profanity generally does not add to the difficulty of reading the book, it is useful to note that there are a handful of profane words used in the book. The first instance of borderline profanity is on page 9, and the first instance of profanity is on page 15.
I rate The Coffee Cartel 2 out of 4 stars. I cannot rate it any better because it was a very difficult read; yet, I cannot rate it 1 star because the plot was actually interesting. Patient readers who can take on any kind of thriller may try their luck, but I would not recommend it to impatient readers, readers who cannot stand any form of erotica or readers who do not like books that are excessively detailed.
The Coffee Cartel
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