The Betrayal Game

Written by David L. Robbins
Review by William Thornton

Robbins’s Professor Mikhal Lammeck travels to Cuba in 1961 at the opening of this novel by the author of The Assassins’ Gallery. Letting you know that, along with the nugget that Lammeck is an authority on the history and weapons of assassins, and you might be able to figure out the plot of this thriller. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro, Mafia, Operation Mongoose, JFK assassination.

Robbins populates this novel with enough facts, and a detailed appendix with the real-life incidents which inspired the action. The only problem I found in digesting this book, which flows well with good description and setting, is that I felt I had read it all before; many times before, in fact, given the circumstances. I’m sure some of Robbins’s strategy banks on just that, and hopes the characters and the twists he provides, which are numerous, will be enough to carry the day. There’s a lot of mileage still left in Caribbean beaches and bearded, cigar-smoking revolutionaries. But this book runs into the same problem that virtually any story wandering into this historical snake pit of rumor and speculation has: the ground is so well-plowed, barely any new swath is bound to look familiar. Still, for students of the period, and they are notably legion, this is a good take on a period which continues to astound – in both fact, and what could be fact.