Bolivia, 1967: Paul Hoyle, an ex-CIA paramilitary with experience in Laos, Vietnam and various Latin American hot spots, is now employed as a “contractor.” The problem? A dangerously effective group of rebels, perhaps Communists infiltrating from Argentina, have ambushed and destroyed a government convoy traveling in a more than usually inhospitable and poverty-stricken part of central Bolivia. The CIA, in an all-too familiar role (protecting multinationals and propping up a corrupt but pro-American regime) is immediately interested. When it becomes clear that this is not a home-grown operation, but is led by the formidable, charismatic Che Guevara, their interest turns to passion.
Killing Che is a gut-wrenching tale of espionage, betrayal and military adventure. Terrifying firefights and numbing slogs through the jungle feel like the real thing. What makes this novel exceptional—besides the author’s brilliantly evocative descriptions of land and people—is the effortless telling from multiple points of view. Besides the burned-out career soldier, Hoyle, there is Tania, an East German-Cuban triple-agent and one-time lover of Guevara’s. There are many other characters, too, all complex and fully realized.
The masterstroke, however, may be the portrait of the heroic true believer, Che Guevara. The author, Chuck Pfarrer, has several successful action screenplays to his credit, but it is his resume as an ex-Navy SEAL (as well as the mountains of research that so obviously went into this novel) that makes him absolutely qualified to handle his subject. Don’t miss this one, or start it at night, as I did. Killing Che is almost impossible to put down.