The Expansion by Christoph Martin (3 Stars)

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Panama Canal is undergoing an expansion, which is big business.  And with big business comes politics, greed and deception.  Max Burns is the geomatic engineer on the winning team, and the likely pawn to be used by all the big players.

The characters are well-developed, although I didn’t see how Max’s extremely wealthy family and his engagement added to the story.  I suppose it was to be able to put Max at a boarding school with the wealthy, thereby giving him connections, but the same could have been true if he had been given a scholarship.  So much time was spent on his past that I thought it would figure into the book later.  The story is paced well, dialog is believable, there just wasn’t enough intrigue.  It was predictable.  As well, I hoped for more historical background on the building of the canal, beyond a cursory information I might find on Wikipedia.  The ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying.

This was a good book, especially for a first-time author.  I understand the author is working on a second novel about Russia and the Cold War, and I’ll probably read it to see if he progresses from good to great!

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