Fiction Book Review: ‘Black Boat Dancing’ by Gerard Cappa

Black Boat Dancing is an outstanding thriller by Gerard Cappa; a tale of greed, politics, and power-hungry predators on the international stage. Tough guys with rough language, slinky dames, and rapid-fire action alongside a noir-style narrative of gestures, faces and words make this a compelling read.

The backdrop is the new Cold War — the struggle to control the international oil pipelines. When Jorginho the computer hacker disappears in Portugal with secrets regarding America’s role in the Arab Spring, the CIA sends their agent Cora to enlist war hero Con Maknazpy to retrieve him. She meets him in Hell’s Kitchen, where he works doing odd jobs for bar owner Jack Gallogly. Con is reluctant to get involved but Cora persuades him with the promise of help from neuroscientist Dr. Blake. Our hero has inherited from his long-lost father a genetic tendency to go into fits of blind rage when provoked. Con agrees to the assignment hoping that Dr. Blake can help both himself and his son, who has inherited the same violent trait.

But in the meantime Con’s inner warrior is useful to the CIA … if it can be controlled.

Con and his also-hired friend Ferdia McErlane set off to Portugal’s narrow Lisbon streets and back alleys to find Jorginho, only to find betrayal. Now on the run, Con must stay ahead of the CIA and Chinese Military Intelligence, and when a Brazilian street gang and the Russian Mafia get involved the chess board begins to reveal itself, and Con discovers the evil games being played and who the real pawns are. Subjected to mind games and the unpredictable effects of Dr. Blake’s experiment, amid a swirl of shootouts, kidnappings and rising body count, the hero must somehow draw from inside himself the strength to come out ahead. Even if that only means staying alive.

The characters in Black Boat Dancing are perfect for the story: Cora is a smart and cool-headed government agent, a femme fatale who measures her words to manipulate Con into doing the CIA’s bidding. Then we are introduced to nightclub worker Yasmin, the Brazilian lady-in-distress that Con tries to help, but she has trouble trusting men.

Gerard Cappa, like a traditional Irish storyteller, relates a story so artfully that the action comes alive like an epic movie in a reader’s mind. Con Maknazpy himself bears characteristics of Cu Chulainn, the legendary Celtic Irish hero prone to battle frenzy, during which he knew neither friend nor foe. Black Boat Dancing has plenty of battles to test the protagonist’s mettle. But beneath Con’s tough exterior and creeping self-doubt is a moral core that compels him to make good on his promises — and all the while he strives to write his own life story.

Black Boat Dancing is a brilliant, timely thriller with a classic, timeless feel and receives Literary Arts Review’s top rating of five stars. We give this book our highest recommendation.

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