The Spy In Love
By John Hoopes
170 pages – $15 US
Review by Kenneth J Clarke
John Hoopes novel The Spy in Love is a tale of industrial and political espionage set on the shores of Lake Chapala as we entered this millennium. In July 2000, after ruling Mexico for 71 years, the political Party PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) is replaced by its right–wing opposition party, Pan (National Action Party) thus, as always, introducing opportunities of wealth and power for those with influential connections. It is in this environment that Young Fonzo Suarez, a junior member of the powerful Suarez Family of Chapala, appears to stumble through life seizing every opportunity that comes his way, and if they don’t he ventures out to find one.
No matter if you are a chubby, bumbling fool, lacking all hint of sophistication, if you have ambition, determination, and the right connections, regardless of the society, Mexico included, you may still climb the chain of power and achieve wealth. At least that is the premise that I saw unfold in this wonderful tale, of an unscrupulous young man, deeply in love with an older gringa woman, climbing a web of intrigue as he ventures from one crisis to the next.
Each new plot offers conflict upon conflict, until we finally believe he is about to achieve his objective, but as any great writer will do, John Hoopes sets yet another obstacle in our protagonist’s path, keeping his reader on edge.
The author displays a strong knowledge of Mexico’s business culture and its contrast with that of her northern neighbor. He further allows that corruption may exist within either. John’s knowledge of the Lake Chapala region lends authenticity to his story, and for those of us familiar with this area, it brings a pleasant familiarity with his characters.
His development of characters is carefully crafted; every detail of each scoundrel, and there are many, is inserted with such expertise that we must recognize each one as someone we have met. John Hoopes offers a literary experience to delight every reader.
The protagonist begins his adventure displaying great naivety in love, business, and politics, though throughout the increasing levels of intrigue, he learns and matures. Towards the end his uncle, who as his chief overlooking his work as a spy, when he notices, Fonzo as a wounded animal, hungry, prowling, and determined, says, “You’re very clever, nephew, suddenly you have a lot of gusto for this kind of work. I think you will be doing well.” However, like most young men even through the end, he still maintains naivety in matters of the heart, and has many lessons to learn in the years ahead.
I recommend this book to all at lakeside for a pleasant evening’s entertainment that may change the way we look at those around us in the future. John assures us this is pure fiction, but like us, John Hoopes lived here at lakeside, and worked in this environment. I don’t know, it is pure speculation, but most authors I know draw on real life when writing a novel.
(Ed. Note: The novel can be found on amazon/Kindle.)