Lush jungle scenery provides some of the deadly terrain in the second installment of The Response Files series, Jungle Heist. This sweaty, testosterone-fueled thriller opens at the base of a lucrative gold mine that sits central to nowhere in Ghana. A heist is in the works and the take is huge, more than eight tons of freshly mined gold, all meticulously accounted for and organized onto several pallets, awaiting official transport. Several players have their eyes on a piece of the golden pie, but not everyone will be able to reap the reward. Dirty politicians, hardened criminals, coerced laborers, hired guns and crooked investors put everything on the line for what amounts to an ambitious caper drenched in the humidity and misery of a merciless jungle. While there is a lot to gain, there is even more to lose if things go sour. The Associate is back and has an empire of crime to maintain, the Ghanaian President has a volatile government to worry about, a Somali pirate’s reputation is on the line, and a brave multinational group is put in place to set matters right. This team of top-notch specialists is tasked with recovering the gold before it disappears from the country. No easy mission when you’re fighting greed, corruption and an unforgiving climate.
Phayre writes with so much first-hand information that you’ll swear you can hear the venomous snakes slithering just outside your window or catch a glimpse of a drone in the night sky as you read Jungle Heist. Intricate details pave the way for chaos as readers are given a compressed education on gold mining procedures, baboon behavior, jungle ecology, and international politics. Initially we only get to know the criminal elements, slowly forming opinions about who we want to end up with the valuable prize or who we want to fail grandly. It takes several chapters to meet the novel’s heroes, so it’s especially clever the way the author is able to build out their personalities with such camaraderie, humor and, especially in the case of poor Raj, so much personal humiliation, that you can’t not root for them. Well conceived and expertly executed, Rob Phayre’s Jungle Heist is a tight, heart-pounding page turner that will keep you engaged until every last gold bar has been accounted for.
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Jungle Heist: Book 2 of The Response Files, by Rob Phayre, is the exciting and impressive follow-up to Ransom Drop. Here we have The Associate and his plan to execute a risky raid on one of the biggest gold mines on the planet. The President doesn't know which of his allies are trustworthy enough to rescue it, so it's up to Max and his A-Team (specialists with superior training) to intervene in the African jungle. How can they succeed when corruption and greed will stop at nothing to extort it for ultimate control? The Associate would like nothing more than to overturn the President and install a lapdog to do his bidding, but there may be a motive loftier than that.
Phayre is back again with taut writing, a tense plot that entertains, settings that intrigue and inform, characters you can like, dislike, cheer, or boo. Gold is the centerpiece for this suspenseful story, and you have weapons and valor as integral parts. I like how today's technological advances are used in the plot, and by the characters, to carry out the deed. Although specific and intricate details are used by the author, the technology is explained in an interesting way that most people can understand. The sections on gold mining are enlightening as well as entertaining. I held my breath in a lot of places, wondering how Max and his team were going to handle a situation, and that's how good this book is.
The award-winning Phayre is an exceptional talent when it comes to executing a plot that engages, informs, and satisfies; and I like his sensorial style as well. One of my favorite passages is how the author describes gold itself; its allure, properties, and value. Equally intriguing are the descriptions of the jungle environment. Characters are described in such concrete detail that you could pick them out of a lineup. You feel that you're in the hands of a good author when you read a Phayre novel. Anyone into reading character-driven action that doesn't let up, high crimes that drop your jaw, and drama that grabs your breath will love the visceral high stakes of Jungle Heist: Book 2 of The Response Files by Rob Phayre.