In 2005, Gabriel Francisco de Boya is an American currently on assignment in Bolivia. Though officially a freelance reporter, he's actually an emissary for an aggressive hedge fund known as the Calloway Group who are eager to outbid other investors during the country's current political and financial overhaul. This is neither an easy nor a plausible feat as Gabriel must be as discrete as possible in nonchalantly extracting information pertaining to the economic development plans of the new President-elect Salvador Rodriguez. But there's a hefty bonus in the cards if Gabriel, only just out of college, can get the job done. Standing in his way are multiple obstacles including the country's financial minister, a former hedge fund liason who's more clever than he's given credit for; a fellow reporter, a real one who adopts Gabriel as a love interest; and finally his outspoken mother, a noted college professor and former survivor of the Chilean revolution who's seen the devastation which the international capitalist system has done to the oppressed masses in these parts of the world. Caught in a growing web of lies and questioning his own role in profiting from an impoverished people, Gabriel sets in motion a terrifying plan that could cost him the love of all those he holds dear.
In the backwards but very atmospheric city of La Paz, Mountford has set his tale of modern day economic policies, international politics and the personal lives caught in the middle. The setting and the character of Gabriel create a complex and engaging story, a tale of a man who's not all that out of place as a well-to-do, bilingual American in a Latin country which can barely keep a president in office but has loads of economic potential. But though he likes to think that his common heritage and familiar accent gives him the necessary cover he needs to blend in, he's far from welcomed as a kinsmen. The stakes of the game are higher than anyone could imagine as the game of international finance and surging capitalism intersects Gabriel with all types of characters--rich, poor, then even richer and even poorer--and his own convictions and preconceived notions are turned on their head with each new revelation. This book, both a novel about ideas and politics, succeeds at being equally well-plotted and introspective while remaining a fluid, character-driven story and a tremendously good read. Seattle-based Mountford has lived in Washington, D.C., Sri Lanka and Ecuador and holds an MFA from the University of Washington where he's now a writer-in-residence. (FIC MOUNTFORD)