Review: Filipino Fever by Bruce Cook
Author: Bruce R. Cook
Publisher: Capital Crime Press
Bruce R. Cook’s debut novel, Philippine Fever, is an engaging and entertaining quick read, if a little bloody at times. Mysteries are usually about corpses, and this one is no exception with its search for suspects.
Set in Manila in the Philippines, where the author had worked and researched the material for the book, the story centers on an American from Texas, Harvey Tucker, who is found dead in a dumpster behind a sex club. Apparently he had been brutally beaten and Taser points had been attached to his testicles. Not a pleasant view!
As a result, Sam Haine of the Los Angeles Division of Homeland Security (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) is assigned to the case to find out why and who killed Tucker. Haine isn’t thrilled to be heading to Manila, however, as he states, “it was better to be busy in the field, than stuck behind an analyst’s desk.”
Our protagonist soon discovers that his stay in Manila will be longer than expected, as he synchronizes his investigation with the local authorities, Detectives Lorenzano and Garcia. Haine discovers that Tucker had been embroiled in a world of disreputable characters involving questionable and sometimes gruesome business activities like the sale of Chinese immigrants. Apparently Tucker was selling roosters for cockfighting – a legitimate sporting event in the Philippines. With the profits, however, Tucker would buy weapons, such as automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and possibly bag mines, selling them to various paramilitary groups. One of these groups of terrorists came from Texas and was buying a shipment of Chinese AK-47s from him. It was now up to Haine and his colleagues to sniff out and track down Tucker’s killer and prevent the dispatch.
A series of hard-to-connect events and clues that seem to go nowhere are thrown into the investigation, though all of them are somehow related to Tucker and his murder. To complicate matters further, a prominent congressman asks the stunning Jennifer Santos of the IRS, whom Haine falls for, to drop the case.
Philippine Fever is well-paced storytelling with compelling characters, geographic setting, and plot at its finest. Cook has made the most of his years working in Manila, as he manages to offer his readers a glimpse into a corner of the world with a unique culture and social context that effectively enhances the novel’s many thrilling scenes. In addition, Cook provides his readers with clues without surprising coincidences that very often spoil detective and detective stories. This one should prove to be a winner and I’m looking forward to more Bruce Cook – maybe a Sam Haine mystery series?