With style and nonstop action, Owen West, winner of the Boyd literary award for best military novel of 2001, returns with Four Days to Veracruz -- an adventure-thriller that sizzles with international intrigue, relentless suspense, and straight-from-the-headlines consequences.
Darren Phillips is a presidential aide, a Harvard graduate, a decorated Desert Storm veteran, and now a husband. Kate North, his new wife, is a world-class adventure racer whom he met on an Eco-Challenge endurance team. When an out-of-bounds kayaking excursion on the couple's honeymoon in Mexico lands them on the private beach of a violent drug dealer, their exotic getaway suddenly turns deadly. And Darren and Kate are, staggeringly, fugitives.
They escape to the local police station -- only to enter into a bullet-ridden confrontation with the dealer's federale brother. Broadcasting the carnage and devastation left in the couples' wake, the Mexican government declares them sex-crazed drug couriers and assassins, and the State Department, to avoid an international incident, tags them as murder suspects. But even as they flee, Darren manages to pass a message to his former roommate, teammate, and disgraced Marine corpsman, Gavin Kelly (hero of Sharkman Six, West's critically acclaimed first novel). The couple's only hope for survival hinges on Kelly's ability to interpret their message and to rendezvous with them in Veracruz.
The couple flees desperately on foot across the badlands of the Sierra Madre, unwittingly carrying a piece of the drug cartel's encrypted communication code with them. As they race toward Veracruz, they are pursued by corrupt Mexican police, federales, and bloodhounds. More terrifying, they are pursued by a man known as El Monstruo Carnicero -- "The Monster Butcher" -- a serial killer dispatched from the bloody desert of Juarez by the leader of the Mexican drug cartel. In all their military training, in all their endurance challenges, Darren and Kate have never before been tested as they are now, running for their lives across the wild belly of Mexico.
Darren Phillips, a major in the Marines, and his wife, Kate, never dreamed they would spend their Mexico honeymoon chasing down drug dealers and crooked federales, but that's precisely what happens in this shoot-and-pursuit thriller. West (Sharkman Six) wastes no time piling up the bodies with gunfights, stabbings, torture and mutilation. Both Darren and Kate are superb athletes, which comes in handy on the four-day adventure that takes them from Acapulco to Veracruz, across miles of deserts and mountains. Kidnapped by drug dealers, Darren and Kate kill their captors and escape with the drug cartel's super-secret, encrypted satellite phone, which they assume is just an ordinary cell phone. The drug cartel wants to retrieve the phone, but so do the CIA and FBI, who have been listening in. Every time Darren and Kate try to call for help, the phone reveals their location to the trackers and assassins following them. As Darren and Kate run for their lives, the CIA and FBI feud over jurisdiction, and the drug lords send an Aztec serial killer and a posse of corrupt cops after them. Meanwhile, ex-Marine Gavin Kelly (the hero of Sharkman Six), sneaks into Mexico to rescue his two friends, but runs into a vengeful DEA agent with a different agenda. The action is frequent and bloody, and the characters are Teflon superheroes whose severe injuries barely slow them down. There's plenty of excitement here, but not much else.