Curse the Moon: Atcho Rises. Lee Jackson. Stonewall Publishers, LLC. December 2013. 328 pp. ISBN#: 9780989802574.
Atcho, a former West Point graduate, appears in a gruesome opening scene where a Russian captain is holding a gun to Atcho’s daughter’s head, while his soldier goons are kicking and beating the daylights out of Atcho. The brutal KGB agent informs Atcho that he owns him and so it will appear until the very end of this international spy thriller that moves between Cuba, Russia and the United States.
Atcho’s fury, plus his obvious well-trained background, compels the reader to follow him during the famous (or infamous depending on one’s point of view) Bay of Pigs disaster. For Cuban dissidents have much gusto to stage a resistance fight with the aid of American military assistance; but it will as we already know go up in smoke due to poor training of Cubans and lackluster, discombobulated American assistance. However, Atcho forms special relationships with some very brave and ardent rebels and he is known for his over-the-top bravery in that devastating skirmish. The result is thousands of Cubans will die as a lesson to the world staged by Castro and thousands more will be imprisoned in Cuban prisons with the most brutally horrific conditions.
Eventually Atcho learns his daughter is in America and plans to escape the prison. He is caught and will serve the next nineteen years of his life in three different prisons. All of a sudden, however, the Russian officer is manipulating Atcho’s life again. The rest of the novel is so surprising at every turn that this reviewer couldn’t stop reading – no spoiler here. Fear over losing his daughter is the key to controlling Atcho as he is ordered to prepare for a very special mission. It is only when he realizes that he’s still a virtual prisoner that he decides to take his own, and his daughter’s, destiny into his own hands. Every page is well worth the read!
Lee Jackson has obviously researched his subject well as he places the battles in Cuba at all the correct places and also depicts the divided nature of Cuban people who for the most part let Castro rule tyrannically without much resistance at all. It’s also obvious that this was more a competition between Russia and the USA. Indeed the mole in this story is a willing tool for both sides. The depiction of West Point is spot on, especially with all of its changes in the 1970s. So much of Atcho’s behavior is not only protective for his daughter but also a result of being a prisoner for so many years, often spending as much as eight months in solitary confinement in a space where one could neither sit, stand nor lie with any comfort at tall.
Lee Jackson writes in the style of the early and notable Robert Ludlum or Ken Follett. The story is action-packed, riveting, adrenaline-pumping reading that is sure to make this a best-seller. The moon can be friend or enemy and Atcho clearly knows the difference! Superb historical thriller!