Last Passage to Santiago

Published By: Senneff House Publishers

Book Category: Fiction,

Reviewed by Beth Cummings

This book cannot decide if it wants to be a romance, a travelogue, a thriller, or a moral tale of good triumphing over evil. John F. Rooney has tried to incorporate all of these genres into one story. I’m not sure that the combination works very well.

The book begins as a thriller–a strange kidnapping in a foreign country. Since kidnapping, especially in Chile, can be a dangerous situation, the stage is set for some sort of mystery thriller. Turn the page. An unhappily married couple is taking a three-week cruise around the southern tip of South America. The wife, Stephie, is particularly interested in seeing the penguins that reside on the Falkland Islands. Ben, her husband, is much more interested in spending time with the girlfriend he has arranged to be on the same tour boat. Ann, the girlfriend, is really just along for the ride–and the sex.

In the close confines of a small cruise ship and on a variety of tourist activities, these three make friends with other passengers and have experiences that are fairly common on well-planned tours. The weather doesn’t always cooperate, buses are late, people get sick, cities are explored and restaurants and bars are frequented. Only occasionally, when Stephie thinks she is being followed, is there any indication that the plot will develop into anything more than a travel tale with a side of tawdry sexual activity. Not until after 220 pages is the thriller aspect of the story revisited. And when it is revisited, it is nearly identical to the original opening–once again the kidnapping of a woman in a foreign country.

I won’t spoil the story by describing more of it, but I found this lack of consistency in plot less than satisfactory. The parts of the book that describe the various ports and sites along the tour were very interesting, but not particularly exciting in a thriller. The sex scenes felt somewhat gratuitous, more for prurient titillation than to move the plot along. And finally, the final eighteen pages seemed to rush the book to conclusion without ever creating the appropriate plot motivations to get there.

Armchair Interviews says: Heed this reviewer’s comments to see if this book is for you.

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