Payback in Panama by Noel Hynd

Payback in Panama cover artTitle: Payback in Panama, The Cuban Trilogy: Book 3

Author: Noel Hynd

Publisher: Zondervan

Book Description:

After two attempts on her life, Alex is faced with the ultimate decision . . . kill or be killed.

U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca is at a crossroads. Her job is beating her up, emotionally and psychologically. And the moral battle between her faith and her responsibilities is taking its toll on her effectiveness. For the first time, she wonders how long she can last.

Forcing an end to her long-running and treacherous duel with the heads of the Dosi Cartel, Alex knows this is her last do-or-die operation. It’s time call in all the favors owed to her.

Her fight takes her into the criminal underground of America’s east coast, south into the violent underworld of Central America, across Honduras and El Salvador, and finally to Panama for a shattering confrontation.

Alex’s career, her life, and her future with the man she loves—a future she never expected after the violent death of her fiancé two years earlier—are all at stake. After a final payback in Panama, nothing will be the same . . . if she even survives.


I love fast-paced suspense novels with action that starts on the first page and doesn’t stop until the very end of the book. This isn’t one of those stories. It started off with page after page of background and info dumps about character motivation. The action picked up around chapter six or seven, and the story finally started moving forward. Then there was another large chunk of information that brought the pace of the story to a crawl. This pattern continued throughout the book, making it difficult for me to read every line without skimming to find a more exciting part. While I appreciate the amount of research the author did for this book, I wish he hadn’t included quite so much of it in the story.

The plot and characters are great and well-developed. Unfortunately, they seem over-developed at times as page after page of character motivation tells us in minute detail how they think, why they do the things they do, etc. Readers are also treated to massive amounts of information on the drug situation in Central America, the intricacies of international crime, and the complexity of financial crimes. After a while, this information begins to feel a bit repetitive. The feeling isn’t helped by the fact that much of the book is telling the story rather than showing it, which left me longing for the characters to do something in “real time” rather than having to read a summary of what they did.

That said, the story did pick up its pace in the last quarter of the book or so. The overwhelming amounts of information were absent as well. The last chapters flowed smoothly and finally allowed me as a reader to get lost in the book and turn page after page without realizing how much time had passed.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed book, this one isn’t for you. If you prefer a slow-paced, procedural-type novel with bits of action sprinkled throughout in-depth information, you’ll likely enjoy Payback in Panama.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Series, Zondervan

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