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Payoff (Simon Fisk) by Douglas Corleone
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
St. Martin's Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250067982
Date: 04 August 2015 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

NOTE: This review originally appear in our December 2014 issue and refers to the hardcover edition.

Wealthy Hollywood producer, Edward Trenton, experiences the worst possible nightmare: His daughter, Olivia, is kidnapped. Even though he makes the ransom payoff, she is not returned. To complicate matters, he is arrested in connection to her disappearance. Now, former U.S. Marshall Simon Fisk must risk his life as he travels through South America in search of the kidnappers. In Bogota, Colombia, he rescues the beautiful Mariana Silva, a victim of slave trafficking, who aids Simon during his quest.

The success of the Simon Fisk series has been firmly cemented thanks to the latest installment, Payoff, following the superb debut, Good As Gone. (The author, Douglas Corleone, took a gamble and it has paid off well.) Once again, Simon becomes involved in a "stranger abduction". Instead of traveling through mafia-invested European countries, he is traveling through cartel-invested South American countries. As helpless as ever, he must rely on a beautiful woman, Mariana, to help him, proving that the old adage, "Behind every good man is a good woman", still holds true.

If the Griswold family had read Good as Gone, there would not have been the movie National Lampoon's European Vacation. They would have been too scared to hop from one European country to another. I won't be going to South America after reading Payoff, especially Colombia. This country leads the world in cocaine production, kidnappings, and slave trafficking. Wow! I sure don't want to go there on vacation. The politicians, law enforcement officers and clergy appear to be as crooked as the drug cartels that operate the country.

Now you will understand when I say that poor Simon Fisk enters a virtual hell when he tries rescuing Olivia. He is surrounded by enemies who wear many disguises. When you don't know who to trust, it's best to trust no one. Fortunately, Simon has an angel, Mariana, to help guide him through this hell. Some readers may be offended or disturbed when our macho, James Bond-like hero is captured and gruesomely tortured. I hope his rugged good looks aren't forever marred.

Even amongst great beauty, one can find ugliness. From the beaches of Grand Cayman to the jungles of Colombia, there is a tremendous amount of exotic beauty, but there is also danger. In his novels, the author makes references to true life crimes. In Payoff, he refers to the disappearance of beautiful student Natalie Holloway from the vacationland of Aruba. In many respects, she was very similar to Olivia Trenton. Both were lovely girls that wanted to have a good time with their friends. Natalie’s murder provides clues to Olivia's disappearance.

Who did Olivia Trenton meet when she was on Grand Cayman Island? How did the kidnappers break into her California home so easily? Why wasn't she returned after the payoff was made? Douglas Corleone's latest novel is very fast paced. It has many twists and turns and a shocking finale that his fans will enjoy. Payoff is highly recommended as are all of Corleone's previous novels. I can't help but wonder where Simon will travel to next in order to save a young girl, or boy. Will he do a tour of some Asian countries? If he does, I hope to be there with him.

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