Todd Buchholz's fast-paced novel, The Castro Gene, sounded interesting before I began reading it.
Buchholz is a hedge fund director and former economic policy advisor to George Bush. Knowing this, I didn't expect Hemingway; I was prepared for pulp. But what Buchholz has penned is worse than pulp.
The Castro Gene is the story of Luke Braden, a security guard working on the ground floor of a Wall Street tower whom a corrupt financial executive picks to be his next protege. Luke is given four minutes to pack all his things and be at the building's rooftop heli-pad. Somehow he manages to meet that deadline.
Luke Braden is the implausibly plainspoken son of a Columbia English professor. Where father Francis quotes from the English language's most skilled practitioners, Luke constructs his sentences from curses.
Luke's slimy mentor, Paul Tremont, is grooming Luke to assassinate Fidel Castro. It's a potentially fun premise, and Buchholz could have done something with it, but instead the author - obsessed to the point of blindness by the Kennedys, mafia dons, and large sums of money - chooses a plotline that is simply unfathomable. To give away the details would be to give away the book, which I don't want to do, wary as I am of recommending it. Suffice it to say that the laughable climax - a twist of plot that involves Luke Braden, Paul Tremont, Fidel Castro, and Jackie Kennedy - made me want to throw my copy immediately into the gutter (where it belongs).
I don't know who encouraged Todd Buchholz to try his hand at fiction, but for the sake of the general reading public, I sincerely hope he stops wasting paper.