Nelson DeMille’s The Cuban Affair follows Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, an army veteran who owns and operates a fishing boat in Key West, Florida. Mac spends his days taking out tourists for both sunset cruises and fishing trips, but that all changes when he is approached by a group of Cuban Americans. With relations normalizing between the US and Cuba for the first time in over fifty years, they want to hire him to assist in retrieving millions owed to Cuban ex-pats who escaped during the Missile Crisis. Mac agrees, but it’s mostly because he wants to get under the covers with Sara, one of his potential employers. Under the guise of a fishing tournament, Mac and his new customers set off for Cuba to track down a decades-old stash of cash.
I received an advanced copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
I found DeMille’s Mac to be an insufferable dumbass. I’m not sure if that was intentional, but he was both unlikeable and annoying right from the start. Mac believes himself to be both clever and witty, but his jokes and observations are unbearably lame (a t-shirt that says “designer t-shirt” on it is supposed to be funny?). Adding to that, he had the mentality of a fourteen year old boy – completely obsessed with getting laid that he could rarely go fifteen minutes without monologuing about sex and how badly he wanted to crawl in bed with Sara. It became irritatingly repetitive and it poisoned the narrative.
It wasn’t all Mac though – Sara is just as much to blame. She’s introduced as this determind young woman, driven to stick it to the Cuban regime, but it wasn’t long before she became this dependent, lovesick caricature that pined over Mac. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with romantic aspects or story-lines within a crime/action novel, but when it is front and center and as nauseating as this was, it is a real turn-off.
DeMille has noted that it takes him approximately sixteen months to write a novel. Although he writes each novel on legal pads with a pencil, the reason for the lengthy timeframe is largely due to the extensive amount of research involved with each story. For The Cuban Affair, DeMille traveled to the island country when then-president Barack Obama relaxed tensions among the two nations. Throughout the novel, he does an excellent job painting the backdrop to Mac and Sara’s adventure highlighting antique cars, dilapidated buildings and the tropical environment surrounding our two protagonists. That was easily my biggest take-away from The Cuban Affair.
In the end, I couldn’t get passed the love story, so it seriously hampered my overall enjoyment. I can recognize the work put in by DeMille to explore the Cuban culture, but I hated almost every character in the story and unfortunately, that makes this one a difficult one to rate positively.