Review by Ehartl -- The Expansion by Christoph Martin

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Review by Ehartl -- The Expansion by Christoph Martin

Post by Ehartl »

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Expansion" by Christoph Martin.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Christoph Martin’s The Expansion simply blew me away. This novel is a high-concept dive into big business and politics, and how one can affect the other in corrupt ways. Played out on the global stage, The Expansion takes place in the United States, Panama, and London. Each location provides the narrative with the key players in the expansion of the Panama Canal, whose paths finally converge fully in Panama over the murder of a local government official. Plagued with danger and false leads, two unlikely allies work to solve the mystery.

The one aspect of the book that impressed me the most was the subject matter. Martin managed to take what could have been a dry and technical subject, the expansion of the Panama Canal, and made it accessible to the average reader. The plot could have been complicated further by the introduction of corrupt politics, but through the use of multi-dimensional characters and language, the story was easy to follow and even relatable.

The characters were so well-drawn that even the slower bits of the narrative never became dry or dense. Martin chose to introduce each set of characters separately in their own countries before having them interact together in Panama, and this helped to allow the reader to get to know each character’s quirks and flaws before any negative events. This resulted in the creation of characters that you absolutely love, like Max Burns, and also some that you love to hate, like Godfredo Roco.

The aspects of this novel I did not like are small and can be chalked up to personal preference. First, the murder of the government official happens more than halfway through the book. Therefore, the entire first half of the book was setting the scene for the murder and corrupt politics. With such a high-concept narrative, I understand why this was done, but I was looking for a bit more of a murder mystery. Second, there were skips in time and scene throughout the book that were separated only by one line break. Those breaks were easy to miss and could make the story confusing.

For me, this book was definitely 4 out of 4 stars. The plot was intricately crafted, the characters were multi-dimensional, and the book as a whole was exceptionally edited. The subject matter was complex without being dry and the pacing was near perfect. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in espionage, conspiracies, or action in general. If you are looking for more of a murder mystery, this may not be the book for you.

The Expansion
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