Sebastian Rotella has returned with The Convert’s Song, the sequel to Triple Crossing, and it’s a worthy successor. Where Triple Crossing felt more like a crime novel, The Convert’s Song definitely steps over the line into an international thriller.
Valentine Pescatore, the hero of the first novel, is living in Buenos Aires and working as an investigator for a man named Facundo Bassat, who runs an agency that works out of the triple border area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. As the novel opens, he’s helping a Miami doctor whose son was killed by a business partner get justice. They will visit a judge Facundo knows and offer him forty thousand dollars to keep the suspect in jail. It’s an attempt to top the suspected thirty thousand dollars the other side has offered to stall the investigation and let the suspect go free. That’s just the way business is done in Buenos Aires.
After completion of the deal, Pescatore escorts the man back to the airport for his return flight to Miami. As the doctor makes it through the checkpoint, a hand falls on Pescatore’s shoulder. It turns out to be his old friend Raymond, who we met in the prologue.
The last time Pescatore saw Raymond was some ten years earlier, when he accompanied Raymond to a drug deal as security. But when Raymond reveals he plans to double-cross the dealer, Pescatore leaves. Raymond shoots the dealer and is later arrested with the drugs and the money.
Now, Raymond claims he’s changed. He’s married, has a couple of boys. He got out of the drug bust by becoming an informant and giving up everyone he knew. And, it turns out he’s a converted Muslim. He’s a businessman, has some investments in the Middle East and Europe.
But a couple times during the reunion, Raymond’s phone rings. The first time, he ignores it. The second time, he answers, and it’s plain he’s talking to a woman. A few moments after he hangs up, she texts him, which he also blows off.
For a week after the meeting, Pescatore isn’t sure what to think of the encounter. In some ways, Raymond seems changed. In others, he’s the same old trouble maker.
Then, there’s a terrorist attack at a local mall. Pescatore’s boss has a heart attack while responding in the attack. The next morning, police kick Pescatore’s door down, claiming he’d participated in the attack, that the terrorists had called him. He has no idea what they’re talking about, of course, until he realizes the call was made to a cell phone he rarely uses. It’s the number he gave his old buddy Raymond when reluctant to give him his working number.
Calls are made and the FBI bails him out. This starts a long chase, first into Argentina, then France, then Iraq, where it becomes more and more evident Raymond isn’t at all what he presented himself as being. In fact, he’s worse than he was when Pescatore knew him a decade earlier.
The Convert’s Song is definitely a worthy follow-up to Triple Crossing, and I’m very curious to see where Sebastian Rotella will take Valentine Pescatore next. If you like international plots intertwined with terrorism and varied, exotic settings, this is a book for you.