The Hemingway Deception
by Tj O'Connor
May 1 - 26, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
Catalina Reyes is running toward hers.
Two deadly women—one treacherous mission.
A Cuba-America war is at stake.
Why does everyone want them both dead?
The answer is simple . . . Hemingway.
Ana Karras is hiding among the millions in Manhattan, recovering from near-death at the hands of Cuban Intelligence. When she begins an ill-fated quest to find her missionary parents lost somewhere in Latin America, she’s haunted by her past and coerced into a new mission—to capture Catalina “Cat” Reyes, a rogue Cuban assassin bound for Washington. Cat’s mission could well start another Caribbean crisis. To avert a Cuban-American war, Ana must do the unthinkable—she must once again become Ana Montilla, the notorious FARC guerrilla. As Ana struggles to keep from devolving permanently into Ana Montilla, Cat must overcome past failures and reclaim her skills as Cuba’s top assassin—or die. Ana and Cat are on a collision course. Their paths are not separate, but one. Their pasts inexplicably linked. Their futures reliant on each other. Still, it’s the secrets kept from them that will be the end game. Two deadly women. One treacherous mission. What is Operation Perro? Why does everyone want Ana Karras and Cat Reyes dead?
The answer is Hemingway.
Praise for The Hemingway Deception:
"A riveting 'ripped from the headlines' international thriller: Two women fighting for what they believe; a horrifying assassination plot; deadly enemies, including some in our own government; and a mysterious operative named Hemingway who must be found. O'Connor, a real life anti-terrorism expert, takes us on a roller coaster ride of action, intrigue, betrayal and stunning twists. Read it!"
~ R.G. Belsky, Award-Winning Author of the Clare Carlson Series
"Great characters, non-stop action, a twisted plot, and exotic locations-The Hemingway Deception is exactly what an international thriller should be. Couldn't put it down."
~ DP Lyle, Award-Winning Author of the Jake Longly and Cain/Harper Thriller Series
"A rollercoaster ride of international intrigue, governmental deception and the meaning of family. Tj O'Connor's real-life knowledge of geopolitical affairs shines through on every quick-turning page. Bravo!"
~ Matt Coyle, Author of the Bestselling Rick Cahill Crime Series
"There are no wimps in this fast-paced thriller, male or female. The relentless action will have you flying through the pages, eager to know what happens next."
~ Terry Shames, Author of the Award-Winning Samuel Craddock Series
"Tj O'Connor does it again in The Hemingway Deception. His action-packed writing is founded in real-world experience with anti-terrorism and threat analysis consulting. This time, he adds kick-ass women to the mix, building in multiple layers of complexity often overlooked in thrillers."
~ Dawn Brotherton, Author of the Jackie Austin Mysteries and Eastover Treasures
This novel has a very complex plot. The narrative moves to different locations and time periods and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. There is a very complex political and power situation with police and guerrillas and military and drug lords. About a third of the way into the book we have information to understand some of the action. Around forty percent in we get some of the history behind the current characters and their actions. I do wish more of the background information had been incorporated into the plot earlier. At about twenty percent from the end, Ana, one of the major characters says, “I don't understand...” (4506/5595) I know how she felt.
More becomes clear as the novel nears the end. There were so many surprising twists, I lost count. People weren't who they claimed to be. Events didn't happen as we were told. Even at the very end, just when I thought all had been resolved, there was another surprise.
Much of the intrigue in this novel is based on events from a couple of decades ago, especially attempts to interfere in Cuba's affairs. It certainly highlights the deception of people in the US government and their secret operations. It was not a quick read for me. I had to really think about what was happening to keep all the deceptive people and plot turning events in mind. This is a novel for readers who like a complex situation and characters who are shrouded in layers of deception.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Published by: Suspense Books
Publication Date: March 2023
Number of Pages: 370
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Two Months Earlier
April 4, Late Afternoon—Cabrera Village, Antioquia Department, Northeastern Colombia Near the Panama Border
Ana stood in the swirling dust among dozens of other Cabrera villagers gathered in the square. They had been herded like cattle by soldiers in black uniforms. All around them, military trucks rolled through the streets. Masked soldiers searched homes and shops. They gathered up occupants and added them to the pack. No one dared challenge the men—no one Ana heard, at least.
She dared not. If these men discovered her secret—her true identity—two things were certain: She would never find her parents, and she would never leave Colombia again. Both outcomes would be because she was dead.
Though Ana Karras was not known in Colombia, Ana Montilla was—notoriously. Ana Karras and Ana Montilla were two sides to the same coin. She was born in Colombia and raised in jungle guerrilla camps—a beautiful, intelligent girl honed by tough comrades and dangerous surroundings. Raised as one of them, Ana Montilla was a jungle fighter. A strong, daring woman whose fearlessness had often invited more danger than necessary. She was often impulsive, reckless, and tenacious. Traits feared in the camp’s men. Traits unexpected in her.
Ana Montilla was the woman Ana Karras loathed to become again. She had left that life—and her alter ego—behind eight years ago. Recently, Ana Karras had returned to South America to find her parents, and wherever she went, Ana Montilla followed.
That was the one fact about her former life that gave Ana the most angst—that Ana Montilla constantly simmered just below her skin, waiting for the right time, the right situation to take control of her life once again. The opportunity to pull her back into a life of chaos and violence. For years, she’d kept that Ana locked and hidden away—a demon remanded to the underworld, tethered to the past.
Looking around Cabrera now, she feared those bonds might be broken and the demon would be released.
Beside her, seven-year-old Sarah—an orphaned child found wandering alone and afraid—clutched her leg with one hand and held tightly to a scruffy dog’s leash with the other. The dog stood rock-still in front of them both, teeth bared, growling a warning.
“No, Lobo,” Ana whispered. “Easy, boy.”
Sarah threw her arms around his neck. “Lobo, stay with me. Miss Ana will protect us.”
“Sarah,” Ana whispered, “it will be all right.”
“Yes, Miss Ana.” Sarah wiped tears away, nearly dropping Lobo’s leash. “Me and Lobo aren’t afraid.”
“Good.” Ana pulled the child tighter against her. “Stay close.”
A short, lumpy, unshaven man turned from a group of soldiers standing near one of the trucks. He adjusted the gun belt riding low on his hip like a television gunslinger and smoothed his black combat uniform. With a casual, almost Hollywood-like gesture, he adjusted his dark sunglasses and strode toward her. He stopped an arm’s length away and took his time looking her over—slow and probing—leaving her feeling dirty and violated.
Lobo strained against his leash and snapped at him, but the man kicked a boot of sand at him. The dog growled again, and the man took a cautious step back.
“I am Major Alberto Gonzales Nicasio,” he said in Spanish. “Who are you and why are you in my town?”
Do not make things worse, Ana. Keep to your cover story.
“Major Nicasio, I am Ana Karras.” She dropped her eyes and played innocent. “I am here to—”
“Wait.” Major Nicasio snapped a finger at one of his men. “Tomãs, could she be the one?”
“Un minuto, Major.” Tomãs, a large, bulky soldier hiding behind sunglasses, pulled out a cell phone from his uniform pocket. He tapped on the screen, pincered his fingers, and brought up a photograph. He handed the phone to the major. “She resembles her, yes. But I am unsure.”
Ana glanced at Tomãs. His Spanish was different than the others. Different than Major Nicasio’s. She knew the varied Colombian accents and dialects. Tomãs’s was not Colombian; it was…Cubano. As she listened to the other soldiers speaking nearby, it struck her they were Cuban, too.
What were Cuban soldiers doing in Colombia?
Major Nicasio studied her, then the photo on the cell phone, and studied her again. He made the comparison several times before shaking his head.
“No, Tomãs, she is not the one.” He turned the phone toward Ana. “Have you seen this woman, señorita?”
The picture was of a young, pretty Latina in a military uniform—a Cuban military uniform. The woman bore some resemblance to her—pretty, dark haired, with a slender face. She appeared a little older than Ana, but shared the dark, Cuban accents in her eyes.
“No,” she said. “I have not.”
“Pity.” Major Nicasio turned to Tomãs. “Search her.”
Tomãs stepped forward and gestured for her to raise her hands. The moment he reached for her, Lobo lunged at him and sent him back-stepping to the merriment of the other soldiers looking on. He instantly pulled a long-bladed knife from his gun belt.
Sarah cried, “Stop it. Leave my dog alone.”
“Forgive me, Major,” Ana said, pulling Lobo back, closer to Sarah. “The little dog is afraid. We are all afraid.”
Major Nicasio waved to one of his men who snatched the leash and dragged Lobo aside.
“No, he’s my dog,” Sarah cried. “Give him back.”
Ana touched her shoulder. “It is all right, Sarah. They will not hurt him.”
“As long as he minds himself.” Tomãs sheathed his knife and stepped close again, nudging Ana’s arms into the air. When she slowly complied, he grinned. His hands moved from her shoulders, down each arm in a slithering trail. At her wrists, they ventured to her hips and began a slower, deeper probe of her body. They moved around her back to her buttocks and returned to her round, full bosom where he kneaded and grabbed, all the while mumbling his admiration.
The other soldiers murmured and cajoled one another.
Ana was thankful she couldn’t see Tomãs’s eyes behind his dark sunglasses. She knew he was staring and lusting as he groped her. She knew if she saw those eyes, her control might wane, and Ana Montilla might strike out.
“I have no weapons.” Ana stepped back. “Por favor, the child. This is not necessary.”
“Don’t move.” Tomãs grabbed her arms and pulled her back into position. He continued his probing down each leg and up her thighs, rubbing her in a violation that made her ill. When he was through, he dug his hands into her jeans pockets and probed further, closing on something there.
He withdrew an old, faded photograph from her front pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to the major. “She has this, Major.”
Major Nicasio glanced at the picture; his eyes snapped up and locked on hers. “You seek this man?”
Ana nodded. “Yes. I…”
“I see.” Major Nicasio’s mouth transformed into a snide grin. “How curious.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Oh, I think you do.” He stepped forward and grabbed her arm, lifting her up onto her tiptoes and against him. “You come to my town to find el doctor? Something you wish to tell me, señorita?”
Excerpt from The Hemingway Deception by Tj O'Connor. Copyright 2023 by Tj O'Connor. Reproduced with permission from Tj O'Connor. All rights reserved.
Author Bio:The Consultant and four paranormal murder mysteries.
Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. Tj is a Harley Davidson pilot, a man-about-dogs, and a lover of adventure, cooking, and good spirits (both kinds). He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Labrador companions in Virginia where they raised five children who are supply a growing tribe of grands!
Catch Up With TJ O'Connor:
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Twitter - @Tjoconnorauthor
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Facebook - @TjOConnor.Author
YouTube - @tjoconnorauthor3905
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(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)
Thanks for your review! Sometimes I like books that make me think!
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