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In summer 2004, Jim Nordberg revisits the village in Nicaragua where he lived in the 1970s, and nothing is as he expected. Kris Behr, once a friend and now a possible nemesis, wants Jim's help in finding a diary that survived an old plane crash. It reveals the secret, and possibly illegal, activities of wealthy Nicaraguans, the CIA, and unknown others, any of whom may kill to get their hands on the diary. Caught in the middle, Jim finds Luci Fuentes, whose own past is linked to the unfolding events. As the race turns violent, they find strength -- and much more -- in each other.
The forward door of our Atlantic Airlines flight swung out and humidity leaked in off the tropical runway. Managua, Nicaragua, same old oven. At the top of the mobile stairs, my whole body began to sweat. Overhead a big sign grabbed my attention: The Augusto Sandino International Airport. Now that was a change. In 1972, my last time here, the Somosas, father and sons, were nearing the end of their three and a half decades as dictators of Nicaragua; and Sandino, hero of the rebel Sandinistas, didn’t have his name on anything. I stepped down to the shimmering tarred apron, and mid-afternoon heat rose through my shoes as I walked across. A squat terminal was larger than the one I left thirty-two years ago, and marginally more modern. But it was still Nicaragua, with a few modern touches. Sharp, musty smells hadn’t changed, the accumulated mixed odors of human passage.... Go to WWW.booksbyneff.com to read all of the first three chapters of HIDDEN IMPACT
Hidden Impact - a stellar debut novel, March 14, 2005
"Hidden Impact, a debut novel by Charles B. Neff, hits its mark with exceptional writing, a riveting story, and fascinating characters."
-- Dana E. Blozis, writer, editor, and book reviewer
Set primarily in Nicaragua, author Charles Neff tells the tale of a middle-aged Jim Nordberg who is looking for meaningful work to energize his solitary existence. Nordberg returns to the setting where he first became a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1970s, hoping to help rebuild Nicaragua while infusing himself with much needed life. Shortly after his arrival, Nordberg's past returns to him in waves as business associates, friends, and enemies reappear in his life one by one.
Nordberg quickly finds himself entrenched in the search for a missing document containing sensitive information about those who supported the Contras in the 1980s. To find and protect the document, Nordberg faces difficult decisions and is thrust into the face of danger at every turn. Nordberg, suspicious of the novel's other characters, finds himself drawn to a woman from his past, Luci Fuentes, who was a young teenager when they first met. Fuentes joins Nordberg in the adventure, trying to save her family and a struggling Nicaragua in the process.
Hidden Impact is a well written book full of politics, history, and adventure, with a slice of romance thrown in for good measure. Neff artfully presents each of his characters, slowly unfolding the subtleties of each one while drawing them into the action. As the novel's main character, Nordberg is the unlikely hero whose past failures undermine his confidence. Despite his flaws, Nordberg is a good guy at heart and easy to relate to.
In Hidden Impact, readers will find an extraordinary first novel that is well written, easy to read, and hard to put down. Neff's storytelling skills will quickly enrapture even the most stubborn of readers, drawing them quickly and completely into the adventure ahead.
Intrigue in a Third World Setting, February 9, 2005
Hidden Impact is a fast read, beautifully crafted and developed. The intrigue kept me guessing, and the hero's solution to the complicated web of corruption is brilliant. The violence is disturbing at times, but much of the value of this novel is in its realistic portrayal of actions in a third world setting. A touching love story is sensitively portrayed, the heroine a truly courageous and intelligent woman who fulfills a mission of service while surrounded by pain and tragedy.
Hidden Impact is a very satisfying novel.
Powerful Impact, January 28, 2005
Hidden Impact is an absorbing, all-too-credible story of dogged idealism and humane aspirations in conflict with malevolent greed, covert political machinations, and high-level intrigue. Despite the corporate and rogue-agent power arrayed against him, Jim Nordberg, thought of by others and even himself as a "Loner" and "Loser," works his way to his own sort of benign power, hard-won love, and personal redemption.
Neff maintains a tight focus on his first-person narrator and on a few weeks in Nicaragua, 2004. But the novel ranges from an impoverished village, through the forest, to the sprawl of Managua,to an elegant country club, and to the U.S. Embassy. Its characters range from dedicated American helpers to Nicaraguan peasants and revolutionaries; to CIA operatives, shady millionaires, and their ruthless henchmen. It also probes the pasts of the players as they become ever more tightly involved with the search -- combining espionage and detective work -- for a long-hidden diary containing potentially explosive details on the Iran-Contra Affair.
A sense of authenticity pervades the book. Jim Nordberg has been around, has fought good fights -- usually losing, as a kind of soldier of misfortune or victim of betrayal -- and has the scars to prove it. Like characters to be met in the works of Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and John LeCarre, Nordberg has been almost beaten down by his past. But when he makes one last effort to be of service again, no matter how humble, he responds to the emerging crises with grace under pressure. Wary, observant, and calculating, he holds his cards close to his vest in what turns out be high-stakes poker game. It still hurts too much for him to talk much about the reasons for the scars, and only gradually can he begin to trust anyone with the plans he is making about how to play his cards. But when confrontations come, whether with weapons or words, Neff renders Nordberg's experiences with imaginative, almost cinematographic force.
It may seem an odd thing to say about a novel which sticks to first-person narrative, but I think that Hidden Impact could be made into a powerful feature film. In plot, theme, issues, and the range of fascinating characters -- especially those of Nordberg and his now beloved Luci -- it calls for treatment as a screen-play and will appeal to a director and actors interested in the real stuff. I'd like to see it.
Reviews for "Hidden Impact"
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
I appreciated reading this well written political whodunit, characters are often multidimensional, well developed and convincing. The bad guys are filled with intrigue, slyness and not much to commend them, sundry of the characters fall into a cold-blooded, bad guy crowd.
I expressly relish a well-crafted narrative chockablock with turns and twists. I enjoyed meeting each of the numerous characters through the eyes of Norberg as he gauges those he had known before along with those who are new to his experience on this expedition. Populated with CIA operatives, dedicated American colleagues, Nicaraguan and activists, devious millionaires, and their insensitive associates; the cast of players is believable, plausible and acceptable.
Surroundings are adeptly fashioned, mugginess, sticky redolence and all, established against a milieu of trickery, cunning and maneuvering forward plot twists as they fuse into one another effortlessly. Narrative provides a glimpse into various settings from the minor village of Norberg’s Peace Corps days, as well as the jungle forest and elsewhere; the account continues at rapid speed. Managua and its populace, a high-priced country club, and even the U.S. Embassy all figure in the work.
Writer Neff has constructed a well-paced, page turner certain to keep the reader engaged from the opening paragraph as Norberg debarks from his plane moves full tilt to the concluding paragraphs as he plans ending his affairs in the United States before returning to Nicaragua where he hopes to inaugurate a new, dynamic life filled with optimism, friends and perhaps even a companion with whom he can share his life.
I was sent a paperback ARC for review
full review can be found on mj Hollingshead site AuthorsDen
|Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson
|The book sounds intriguing. I hope it does well......M,|
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