The Noriega Tapes by Lance Karlson. (2019).
**4 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to the author for getting in contact and sending me a free copy of this novel, I am very appreciative**
Names like Castro, Hussein and Gaddafi have all haunted the Western world, but none have invoked as much fear in the White House as Manuel Noriega. His power came from blackmail. His secret tape recordings of dealings with American officials and the CIA became a thorn in the side of the USA until 1989 when their patience finally ended and Noriega’s headquarters were bombed. But what if the tapes weren’t destroyed? When an outspoken critic of the Noriega regime is murdered in 1985, the investigations of fledgling Canadian journalist Owen leads him into the sordid underworld of the CIA. His quest is rekindled a generation later, when a spirited English dancer, Jenna, learns of her mother’s previous life in Panama…
This action based crime thriller is based on the true events leading up to the US Invasion of Panama in 1989. I must admit that I had absolutely zero knowledge of these events which made me feel a bit lost going into the book but on the positive side, I learnt a lot from this novel. My only problem now is I’m not entirely sure which parts/characters are true and which are fictionalised… looks like more research for me! Told in dual timelines, both involve tension filled drama and action. With quite a fast pace and a fair amount of characters mentioned, at first it may be slightly overwhelming but it ends like a rollercoaster you don’t want to get off. I particularly enjoyed Jenna’s perspective, whose life immediately escalates after the death of her mother and she is thrown headfirst into events that started before her birth and put her in immediate ongoing danger.
Overall: an enjoyable and suspense filled ride through an alternate version of recent history. Recommend for fans of spy crime, action and/or thrillers.