Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Aztec

International intrigue and espionage mix with old Bolshevik secrets in this thriller by Bill Vidal. British professor Jack Hadley is gathering data for a biography on the notorious Mexican Communist Jesús Florin, called “the Aztec,” the former comrade of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev. Florin has spent a lifetime igniting revolutions all over South America and Africa, making friends and enemies along the way. Hadley and wild child girlfriend Mercedes are duped by the Spanish secret service into helping to discover what became of the gold which the Spanish Communists sent to the Soviet Union in 1936, some of which became lost. The missing gold is comprised of rare coins, at least $200 million worth, and Florin is the only one left alive who might know where it is hidden. As Hadley travels from Spain to Cuba to the Balkans to Africa in search not only of the treasure but trying to unravel the mysteries of Florin’s life, the Aztec has a score of his own to settle. The novel has frequent flashbacks in the first few chapters which make the chronology difficult to follow at times. However, the vivid descriptions of the various cities where the protagonists find themselves are fascinating, especially the mouth-watering depictions of Spanish restaurants. For those interested in the Cold War period, The Aztec  gives a view of what was happening outside of Europe and the Soviet Union, as country after country became Marxist, while others became dominated by Fascist, totalitarian regimes, some of which were supported by the CIA. The human cost of war and revolution is assessed in Vidal’s riveting novel of suspense.

(*NOTE: This review was originally published in the November 2011 issue of the Historical Novels Review. The Aztec was sent to me by the Historical Novel Society in exchange for my honest opinion.)


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