4 out of 4 stars
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Since at least the 1500s, the idea of linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by creating a water passage across the isthmus of Panama has tantalized world powers with ideas of riches by creating a shortcut from Asia to Eastern Europe. But Yellow Fever and Malaria from incessant daily rains, mud slides, and worker strikes foiled successive attempts by the French and Americans and it was deemed too difficult of a project to pursue. Finally, an American named Dr. William Gorgas discovered a way to kill the disease-ridden mosquitos and after much continued difficulty, construction of the Panama Canal was completed in 1914.
Christoph Martin takes this a step further in The Expansion by introducing the reader to an international engineering contest to expand the Panama Canal. The competition is fierce and corporate sabotage is not out of the question. Murder, crime, mystery and secret agencies all have a hand in this thrilling tale of the cutthroat business world of construction and the need for power and control of the Canal.
Max Burns, a British geomatics engineer with a painful family history is charged with heading up the task of expanding the Panama Canal after winning the bid with his unlikely partners. He leaves his fiancée and a stable job with his future father-in-law for this chance of a lifetime opportunity. Gian Taroco and Alexandra Wong complete the technical team, along with Paco Roco and his son, Godfredo from CISCO Corp. who are charged with the budget and construction details.
But Paco spends far too much time with his race horses and Godfredo can’t seem to keep his head in the game. Max is pushed to his limits and misses his old life in London until he meets Karis Deen, a scientist working at the nearby Smithsonian Institute. Could this beautiful girl with hypnotizing blue eyes be the one for Max?
Martin doesn’t bore the reader with technical jargon relating to the complexities of expansion to the Panama Canal. Instead, he delivers his dish of intrigue one delicious bite at a time, with tropical, languid scenes by the pool and sweet slices of deception from characters who are not what they seem to be. There are twists at every corner and just when you think you know the name of the game, another twist of the plot ensues.
However, as is the style of the day, Martin ends his book with an abrupt cliffhanger that left a bitter taste in my mouth after such a good ride. I felt that the ending could have been handled in a more satisfying way, but it did leave me wanting more.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. The Expansion by Christoph Martin doesn’t fail to delight the reader with a strong story line that compels one forward on a smooth journey of deceit and intrigue. I would recommend this book to those that enjoy the mystery and thriller genres.
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