By Mark Joseph
Monte Rio, California, is home to the famous Bohemian Grove. The Bohemian Grove is a huge grove of redwoods owned by the Bohemian Club, a men’s club in San Francisco. This is not just any club though; the men making up the membership rolls are some of the most powerful in the world. There are political leaders, industry leaders, entertainers, and more. It is a given that all are super rich. This is their version of summer camp, the world’s biggest party for rich men. Naturally, such an exclusive group would be protected by the best security money can buy.
The Russian River Society of Pirates and Thieves is a group of four guys from the little town whose entertainment during the 18-day encampment involves spying on the wealthy men at the grove, who they call the Bohos. They don’t do this for any nefarious purpose. They just do it for fun and because they can. If a Boho leaves the campgrounds to go visit a local brothel, they follow him. They use very sophisticated radio equipment to listen to the security patrols in the Grove and to learn who is arriving and departing. They know more about the Grove than the security teams themselves. So, it’s not surprising that the FBI decides to recruit the Russian River Society of Pirates and Thieves to put Grove security to the test.
FBI agents Teddy Swan and Paul Kruger pay a visit to the Pirates and gain their assistance. So, when the president of Belarus, Boris Dimitriov, arrives, the group spies on him just like they normally do. But little do they know that a group of Russians is angry at Boris over a pipeline deal. They have recruited a terrorist group to get their revenge on Boris while he is at the Grove. Will the Pirates be able to help in time to stop the plot?
The characters are really great and provide seriousness as well as funny moments. The neighbor with one arm who keeps complaining that people are trespassing on his land is a good example. The Pirates themselves are an eccentric mix of characters. The financial guy for the group, Albert Flowers, is a tech genius who retired with $8 million dollars, which was still not enough to get him invited to the Boho’s club! He is the one who purchased all the high-tech gear that Jeremy uses. Butler Rhodes is an older veteran who was a sniper in Vietnam. The radio geek is Jeremy Steadman, who can find just about any radio transmission nearby and snoop on it with his gear. Phillip Mercier is the youngest member and is a math teacher. He helps out the radio guy by using his high-tech computer gear and databases to look up information.
I loved the scene where they dress up in costumes and storm the beach at the Grove. Hilarious! Then, there is the more serious subplot involving the terrorists. It details how they come into the country and arrive at the Grove and how they remain hidden. It is plausible and believable.
The local sheriff is a corrupt guy and there is a whole subplot involving him. He and his deputies are mysteriously absent during the attack. Was this part of the plan, one wonders? It is not indicated that it was part of it, but the reader can use their imagination and think that maybe the terrorists plotted the sheriff’s rather convenient downfall to coincide with their attack.
This was a very entertaining novel and quite exciting ending too. Not what you would expect to happen. I enjoyed learning about the mysterious Bohemian Grove. It’s also a look at the local culture, where people protest outside the gates and local business owners cater to the rich guys and make a lot of profit during their visit. Then, there are all the eccentric characters who populate the peripheries of the story. All in all a very entertaining and enjoyable read. I recommend it!