Xlibris, 622 pages, (paperback) $23.99, 978-1-4771-2208-2
(Reviewed: November 2012)
An entrepreneurial Canadian farmer gets swept up in international intrigue and pulpy escapades when he clashes with the Columbian mob in this sprawling, graphic thriller from author Bob Ferguson.
Buzzard Bay leap frogs between 1969, the early 1980s, and 1997, when the majority of the action is set. Bob Green is a burly Canadian student in Minneapolis when he meets Judy Hanson, a winsome tomboy with whom he shares an electrifying attraction. The attractive couple raises two lovely children on a farm for many years.
Fast forward to 1997: we find Bob on the run from two assassins after a wintry assassination attempt straight out of the Bourne film franchise. To fill in the backstory, Ferguson flashes us back to 1988, as the Green family is lured into a too good-to-be-true farming scheme on Andros Island in the Bahamas, managed bya multi-million dollar nonprofit called APCO. Sure enough, the NGO turns out tobe a front for the Columbian mafia, who are running cocaine out of the islands and are backed by a sickeningly sadistic German pimp named Grundman who is funneling funds through Switzerland. The whole operation is run by an overlord called El Presidente, who sets two vicious mercenaries named Henekie and Alfon Green’s tail.
This debut novel features solidly composed prose; Ferguson writes a decentaction scene. But the malevolent machinations of his villains ring largely false. Readers should also be warned that the entire novel is very sexually graphic with numerous illustrative—and often preposterous—sex scenes peppered throughout.
For those who like their hombres manly and their female characters pliable, Buzzard Bay will be a familiar throwback to the heyday of men’s adventure novels.
Also available in hardcover.
Three Stars (out of Five)
In the song “White Powder” that appears on the first page of Buzzard Bay, Bob Ferguson sharesan ominous warning with Bahamian locals and tourists alike. It reads, “There’s a sayin in theislands an that sayin say / If you want to go on livin, stay away from Buzzard Bay.”
In this first installment of a proposed series in which cocaine-dealing characters“continue to move the white powder around a modern-day world,” Ferguson, a Canadian expat,substantially confirms the Bay’s infamous mythology as a site best avoided. However, his adultthemed,action-packed novel is saturated with too many erotic sex scenes and too much graphicviolence to recommend the otherwise well-written book to a mainstream audience.
Ferguson’s story concerns the misadventures of a hardworking Canadian couple, Boband July Green, who are ensnared in a drug-smuggling scheme with tentacles reaching to theirteenaged son and daughter and a pair of family friends. Known as “the Canadians,” Bob, July,and their son move to an undeveloped farm on Andros Island and gradually develop it into aviable operation. Unfortunately, the farm’s nearby airstrip and the port at Buzzard Bay become ahaven for drug dealers from the United States, Europe, and Central and South America. Becauseof the Canadians’ various run-ins with cartel members, a contract goes out to kill them.Ferguson weaves the ensuing chases in cars, boats, planes, and helicopters through severalbackstories and to an intriguing ending.
In addition to being adept at creating unique scenes of suspense and even hair-raisingterror, Ferguson has a knack for breathing life into his characters, including the despicable ones.As well, there are insightful scenes of El Presidente—known as “the Referee”—and his dealingswith Colombian and Mexican cartel members, which foster the success of the drug tradeworldwide, despite the best efforts of the CIA, FBI, RCMP, and Interpol. Also to his credit,Ferguson’s settings, especially the Bahamas and northern Saskatchewan, are truly evocative ofthe sun and sand of the former and the cold and snow of the latter.
But where Ferguson’s narrative leaves the mainstream reading audience behind is in itsgratuitous sex and violence. Several scenes of sadistic and deviant sexual encounters, forinstance, border on the pornographic in their descriptions, including the mutilation of a femalecorpse and the application of electrical shocks to the genitals of a male that leaves little to theimagination. Even at the best of times, the women in the story, such as Green’s wife, July, aretreated as sex objects and praised for their physical endowments, sexual prowess, and ability tomanipulate males through aggressive sex.
Despite an annoying spate of typographical errors, Ferguson has an authentic talent as astoryteller. He concludes his novel by stating, “But then there are lots of stories in the islands.”Perhaps his next book will be a bit more palatable to a mainstream audience.
Xlibris (630 pp.)
$34.99 hardcover, $23.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1477122099; September 14, 2012
A struggling farm couple reveals extraordinary grit and determination when they find themselves pitted against aninternational cocaine cartel.
Ferguson’s first novel packs violence, murder, graphic sex and political intrigue into a high-action drama that swings between Canada and the Bahamas, with occasional detours in Columbia and Germany. Central characters Bob and July Green move from Canada’s North Country to Andros Island in the Bahamas as part of an experimental group organized to launch a farming enterprise. When they discover that the real purpose of the development is to rehabilitate an airstrip for cocaine trafficking, they embark on an attempt to destroy the drugs and reclaim the farming operation. What follows is Bob and July’s fight for survival against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the CIA, the FBI, local Bahamian government representatives and, of course, the Cartel’s army of hired killers. A good quarter of the novel explicitly depicts the rather depressing and degrading sexual practices of almost everyone, and this detracts from the main rhythm of the narrative. A few interspersed pages would have sufficed to illustrate the seamy rather than steamy practices of the drug lords, ladies and underlings. Bob’s voice opens the story, but Ferguson switches back and forth between third-person and first-person narration. As the tale continues, third-person narration takes over almost completely. The sweetness of the enduring love between Bob and July provides respite from the violence and keeps the reader squarely in their corner, and the storyline provides an interesting take on the many roads big money travels to thwart any war on drugs.
Not for the squeamish, but full of nail-biting excitement.