cover image Ghosts of Havana

Ghosts of Havana

Todd Moss. Putnam, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-17593-0

Present-day Cuba provides the backdrop for Moss’s timely if uneven third novel featuring State Department troubleshooter Judd Ryker (after 2015’s Minute Zero). When four friends from the D.C. suburbs agree to go deep-sea fishing off Florida, two are unaware that one of them, a descendant of a Bay of Pigs invader, has a secret agenda; the fourth is in on the game. When their boat strays into Cuban waters and gets captured, Judd’s boss sends him to Havana, to run a back-channel operation to free the “Soccer Dad Four” before they become tokens in a political badminton game between the U.S. and Cuba. Meanwhile, Judd’s wife, Jessica, a former black-ops CIA agent, seeks out the guy who rented the fishing boat to the four Americans. Moss, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, does a good job depicting the tactics that our intelligence agencies might employ in negotiating with a foreign power, but most of the action centers on the highly capable Jessica, leaving Judd to perform relatively more mundane tasks, like drinking all night with Cuba’s intelligence chief while discussing the terms of the men’s return. [em]Agent: Josh Getzler, HSG Agency. (Sept.) [/em]