Prior to 2001, the US Navy base in Cuba was commonly called Guantanamo Bay, calling the base Gitmo had never really taken with the public at large. Even in the movie, A Few Good Men (1992), the base was only referred to twice as Gitmo and the first time it was used, it was immediately defined to the audience as Guantanamo. In 2002, that all changed when the US government used a portion of the naval base to detain enemy combatants. Now Gitmo is widely used and with it comes a myriad of connotations. Shawn Corridan and Gary Waid’s Gitmo (Down & Out Books) whole-heartedly grabs ahold of Gitmo and the wonderful cover by Edel Rodriguez bleeds the Gitmo meme.
Gitmo is a man of prison story that quickly changes into a heist/thriller novel. The book opens with Dixon Sweeney freed Florida prison where he served time for smuggling. The parking lot stands empty, no wife to be found, so he jumps on a bus and heads back to his hometown of Key West. As the first few chapters move along, Sweeney’s life gets worse and worse. Sweeney tries desperately to stay on the straight and narrow, but we all know that’s not going to work out.
Two-and-a-half weeks later, on a Thursday morning at five a.m., Dixon Sweeney leaned on his mop and wiped his face with the tail of his undershirt. He was as about as miserable as a man might be and still not be in jail. He was about as poor, too. And with the list of disgusting duties he had, time had become his enemy. There was no time to see the sky anymore. No time to see the sea. Between swabbing the decks and refueling the boat and sanitizing the bolted-down benches and cleaning the toilets, he had to endure a guy named Randy, half his age, with a forehead like a fireplug, telling him nautical stories as he gave orders.
“Dixon, you’ll learn pretty quick around here that sloppy work doesn’t cut it at sea.”
“Okay, Randy. Thanks.”
But then he had to clean the ticket window and empty the office trash in the dumpster, all before dawn, so his new jerkoff boss could wipe his palms across the fake nautical desk and the fake nautical fishing floats on the fake nautical wall, and explain that he’d been in the fucking Navy, where dust wasn’t allowed to accumulate and, “Maybe you’d like to go over this once with the polish before you get ready for the first group.”
“Okay, Randy. Thanks.”
At some point, as the sun was peeking over the Casuarinas across the harbor, he was given fifteen minutes to dress for his “real job.” A job the likes of which he might never have forced on his worst enemy.
Corridan and Waid have built a thriller that has our beaten-down protagonist heading over to Cuba to rescue a woman and also purloin a bag full of cash hidden since the 1950s. I was a bit disappointed that Sweeney seemed surprised that his old criminal boss Buck Wiggins wanted his money back; I did enjoy Wiggins’ muscle, the Canseco twins, Gunther and Gooch. Though I had to suspend their disbelief a few times in order to ride the wave of the Corridan and Waid’s Gitmo, if you do want to read a thriller filled with speedboats, guns, corrupt officials, beautiful women, and Tornadic waterspouts then this book is for you.