The Pinochet Plot ISBN: 9781938288210, Terra Nova Books, a mystery/historical novel in e-book by David Myles Robinson.
Plot: Willian is the son of Ricardo Muñoz one of Latin America’s most loved Chilean novelists who also is internationally famous for his well-recognized ill treatment resultant from often vitriolic writings against the president and a mother equally famous for her paintings and latter, decorative pottery. They met when Muñoz was forced to flee Chile after jailings and beatings ordered by tyrannical president/dictator Pinochet or his ‘hatchet-man’ Contreras. Granted asylum in America, he arrived in Santa Fe, they met, had a delightful relationship ending in a beautiful marriage that produced a son. Eleven years later, William came home from shopping with his mother and found his father slumped over his desk, dead from a shot to the back of his head. His mother believed the killer had been dispatched by Pinochet, but with no evidence, nothing further evolved. The story then begins with William now a lawyer in San Francisco as partner with fellow classmate Cheryl Granite and his really only other friend Travis Wheeler as their paralegal and private investigator. Most of their cases are to defend people with too much money and little sense in spending it. While involved in a routine case he is informed that his mother has committed suicide and leaves him a long explanatory letter that tells him it is better this way, describing why and also providing a notebook and a never-published manuscript that detailed some of the most atrocious of Pinochet’s activity. A copy had been leaked which she feels was the final straw that led to his father’s murder. He ponders the act and the material, decides to take a leave from the practice and ‘mull things over’. From these beginning revelations, the story gradually evolves from his first exploratory activity into a possible Pinochet connection with some positive findings. These in turn, lead to further exploration that discovers connections to a poorly thought-out government study that entailed university conducted studies on mind affecting drugs, involvement of a one-time active CIA agent, William’s somewhat later acquired step-father and others. From here, the action expands into a rapidly moving convoluted pattern of intrigue and mystery involving a number of characters only seemingly possible of involvement, yet necessary to investigate. Ultimately, an interesting finale is reached. Further details of this intriguing tale would be a disservice to the prospective reader.
Discussion: Although fiction, the plot is based upon activity that well could have been initiated by Augusto Pinochet. According to the Church Committee report, Nixon, advised by national security advisor Kissinger had ordered the CIA Director Helms to prevent socialist Salvador Allende from being elected Chile’s president. He was duly elected but later was replaced by Pinochet in a right-wing military coupe that although not knowingly aided by the U.S. was in no way deterred. His administration persisted for a number of years demonstrating a high level of alleged and much proved brutality and atrocities. The CIA’s poorly thought-out/designed experimental drug program that never should have been initiated actually existed as well as some of the other activities to which the author refers. The story’s characters present interesting facets that from this reviewer’s perspective, if developed, would have immensely added to the tale. Regrettably, most of these never reached full maturity. Regardless, the story is fascinating as told with incidentally, much applicable to what has, and is occurring today as gleefully reported by the media – the reference to “hateful, greedy, manipulative” individuals who throw huge amounts of money to bolster their beliefs; manipulation by government and media to enhance the “Red Menace”, Russian and Chinese influence; the repetitive call for “proliferation of weapons” or banning thereof; statements attributed to Obama and Eric Holder; the escalation of dangerous action by individuals and groups and more. Parenthetically and possibly entirely incorrectly, the spate of books received lately by this reviewer has caused him to begin experiencing an uncomfortable feeling that in accord with the old adage about ‘truth being stranger than fiction’, today’s novels may be extending further into that gray zone between the two; viz. novels seem to be providing abundant non-fictional anti- or pro-, liberal or conservative agendas in thinly, or often not so thinly disguised fashion. Recently read novels/memoirs bolstering this suggestion are one Korean, one about a survivor of Tito’s Czechoslovakia, another of an activist in pre-WW II Poland, several of Russia, and one of South Africa. But to reiterate, perhaps this thought results from the almost total inability to avoid constant inundation by ‘all things political’.
4* 5* (-1, characterization) Intriguing, based on relatively recent history.