Prather’s Pick: A Danielle Steel novel
This past week I found myself without anything to read so one afternoon, between appointments, I stopped at the library and quickly browsed the new book section. I noticed “Undercover,” a novel written by Danielle Steel, on one of the display racks.
I’ve read quite a few books by Danielle Steel, including two other new books, “Country” and “Prodigal Son.” Her books always promise to be engaging and fast-paced. So I checked out “Undercover” and read it during the weekend.
There are two leading characters in “Undercover.” The first part of the book is Marshall Everett’s story, except that as the novel begins Marshall is Pablo Echeverria and has been for three years. He’s a DEA special agent, living in the jungle south of Bogota, where he’s the right-hand man for Raul, “El Loba,” as he handles purchasing and transport operations in the drug business. He travels daily to Bogota and Cartagena, arranging drug shipments to a number of countries, including the United States.
Pablo lives in a hut with Paloma, his girlfriend and Raul’s sister, who is pregnant with his child and is due soon — like any day. Pablo loves Paloma so he isn’t ready for the message that a waiter delivers one day at a café in Bogota. The waiter whispers “Now,” but Pablo says, “Not now.” It turns out that there has been a leak in somewhere in the chain, and Raul will hear about it soon so the DEA is taking Marshall home.
After he’s home, Marshall has to go through deprogramming. It is only then that the DEA agents tell him that Raul killed Paloma and the baby.
Marshall can’t work undercover anymore so he has a desk job at the Pentagon and then is assigned as a Secret Service agent to protect the President of the United States and his family. He is wounded in duty, losing the use of his arm. Marshall ends up in Paris.
The second part of the novel is Ariana Gregory’s story. She is the 26-year-old daughter of wealthy Robert Gregory. He’s appointed ambassador to Argentina. Since his wife died, Robert needs Ariana’s help to fix up the embassy and to act as hostess for political events. So Ariana goes to Argentina with him.
One day Ariana is kidnapped by a man named Jorge who claims to be fighting a holy war for the starving people of the world. He holds her for ransom, the money, which will feed the people — so he claims.
Eventually Ariana falls in love with Jorge and becomes pregnant. Jorge writes her a love letter every night. He also writes in a journal that he keeps in a metal aviator’s box.
One day the camp is raided by a task force, sent to rescue Ariana. Jorge hands her the metal box. She puts the love letters in it. As she is taken from the camp, Ariana watches a burning tree fall on Jorge, crushing him.
Ariana loses the baby, and she also loses her father. She spends some time in a convent and then CIA agent, Sam Adams convinces her to go to Paris to work with a deprogrammer.
So then the last part of the novel is the story of Marshall and Ariana (and their dogs Lili and Stanley).
This is an easy read with interesting characters and a well-developed plot. The book I reviewed happened to be a Random House Large Print book (2015). It costs $28 in softcover or you can find it at the Craig Moffat County Library.
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