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The Emerald Men    by Maryann Weber order for
Emerald Men
by Maryann Weber
Order:  USA  Can
BookSurge, 2009 (2009)
Paperback, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Against all odds, Danna Pavalek has succeeded in making a good life for herself. She is a virtual orphan, in that her political rebel of a father long ago decided to sacrifice his family to his passion for social change in his homeland of Nicaragua. Her mother remarried and retreated into selfishness. Her brother Devon seems to have lost his moral compass (unsurprising given his parental role models) and makes a lucrative living as a smuggler.

Danna herself remains surprisingly loyal to her family although she goes her own road. She endures scrutiny by the FBI, as her father remains on a federal watch list, but serenely enjoys her career as a troubleshooter for an arts organization, and delights in single motherhood of two little girls. This pleasant existence comes to an abrupt end when Devon's body is found. Her brother had met a nasty end, with evidence of torture before he was killed. When her mother is brutally attacked in a home invasion, it becomes clear that someone, perhaps several someones, are hunting for whatever Devon had been smuggling. Danna recalls uneasily her last conversations with her brother. Devon had been confidently anticipating a big score, one that would make him rich; but to do so, he had double-crossed his employers. Danna learns that his last operation was to smuggle into the States a fabulous archaeological treasure, the Emerald Men of the title.

Although her preference would be to steer clear of this dangerous mess, Danna is unable to do so. Her loyalty to her family (despite being sorely tried) leads her to involve herself, particularly when she learns that Devon has a son, whom he kept secret from his parents and herself. Fearing for their safety, she flies to Palmettoville, the tiny Florida town where Devon had lived, and where the treasure hunters also have flocked. Danna finds her hands full, what with her well-meaning lover (who insisted on accompanying her and gives her unwanted advice), the FBI, the dangerous men whom her brother had cheated, her father (who is scheming to hijack the treasure), and most importantly a high-spirited nephew whom she is trying to protect.

The Emerald Men has an intriguing plot. However, aside from Danna herself, her nephew and her nephew's mother (the latter entering only near the end of the tale), I found most of her nearest and dearest thoroughly unlikable. This spoiled my enjoyment of the story and made me, perhaps unreasonably, impatient with the protagonist.

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