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John Carpenter Series #1

Ghosts of Guatemala

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Who can you trust when corruption and danger are a way of life?

The CIA never left Latin America, and is facing catastrophic blackmail at the hands of an erratic Guatemalan drug lord: the infamous patrón of Antigua – Pablo Puentes. Desperate for a swift solution, the agency calls in their black operative fixer: John Carpenter.

John is a cold-blooded professional ready for the job. But the mission doesn’t have a simple fix. Pablo has a disastrous kill switch in place. John is still haunted by the mysterious death of his best friend who died on a far too similar mission, and now is uncertain about how much he can trust his handler or his sensual partner.

Back at the agency, tensions are running hot as the stench of corruption is growing to a boiling point. If things aren’t put to rights – and soon – the entire mission will go up in flames and take the CIA down with it. Only John Carpenter can bring this drug lord to justice and get the answers he deserves.

Because this mission is personal…

“If you like the relentless tension of Daniel Silva and the gritty reality of Lee Child then you’ll love this first book in the John Carpenter Trilogy!”

Visit his website at CollinGlavac.com

286 pages, Kindle Edition

Published November 24, 2019

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Collin Glavac

5 books54 followers

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5 stars
206 (41%)
4 stars
170 (34%)
3 stars
82 (16%)
2 stars
21 (4%)
1 star
12 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
1 review1 follower
December 23, 2019
Glavac is Gripping

This book is exactly what you want out of a spy thriller: exciting violence, tense intrigue, and enough twists to keep even the most astute reader on their toes.

Ghosts of Guatemala, much like it's protagonist John Carpenter, is focused. No time is wasted on pointless asides or flowery rambling. It moves from beat to beat without hesitation, and with an excellent balance between action and tension that keeps the reader abate without wearing them down. Glavac examines questions of duty and justice without getting bogged down in the details.

In short the book is fun and it's exciting. It knows what kind of book it is and plays to it's audience with great skill.
November 27, 2019
This is a very enjoyable story that interweaves CIA operations, the drug trade, Guatemalan politics, religion, and local culture into a riveting narrative. Glavac has interesting takes on some of the big issues that have affected political relationships and local cultures. He spends time setting up characters and events and then takes you for a thrill ride with a tale that really moves. I’m already looking forward to more!
127 reviews4 followers
June 18, 2021
A riveting crime thriller. The CIA on a mission in Latin America, corruption...drug lords...can anyone be trusted?! A book that is gritty and realistic, that paints the cold harsh, hard realities of the machinations of the CIA in Latin America and the philosophy that the ends justify the means....but who gets damaged in the process??!
A well written, gripping read.
Profile Image for Don Glass.
70 reviews
June 21, 2021
Believable excitement.

A highly readable and believable tale of espionage and corruption at international level.
The characters are real, plausible, and the dialogue expresses feelings to which most of us can relate.
I was left with a strong desire to learn more about John Carpenter and his struggle to find the truth in a sea of lies and half truths.
Part detective, part spy and real human - can John get answers? I'm keen to find out.
Profile Image for Carl Brookins.
Author 25 books73 followers
July 4, 2020
Here is a terrific idea with some interesting characters in imperfectly realized circumstances. The novel begins with a bang, the attempted assassination of a Guatemalan drug czar. The scene is potent, rife with tension and murderous action. Unfortunately, although the assassination is successful, the assassin also dies in the attempt.

We then switch to scenes of dissention, corruption, loss of confidence and general incompetence in an important US government agency, the Central Intelligence Agency. Then commences a long and wandering dissertation about the life and development of a Seal, one John Carpenter. Sometime later in his career, he is mysteriously detached from the Navy to become an agent for the CIA, specializing in Latin America.

He is tasked with retaliation against the Guatemalan drug cartel, an assignment which takes the narrative deeply and in considerable detail inside that country. The narrative is wordy, resulting in an overlong novel which levels criticism against the U.S. government, the CIA specifically and the American public in general.

A good editor would have reduced the novel by at least a third and in the process elevated the action and tension. While some of the characters are unusual and more than passingly interesting, the novel’s potential is largely obscured in wordiness and a somewhat negative attitude.

1 review1 follower
November 29, 2019
Ghosts of Guatemala Glavac has some truly cinematic scenes, complete with gut wrenching violence and tense and snappy dialogue. Dialogue is probably Glavac’s best writing trait. He jumps around a bit at the beginning which was a bit confusing but once I got a handle on the characters it was great. Those last thirty pages or so just fly by with all the action! And the confession scene gave me chills…
1 review
November 29, 2019
Great story! I helped copy edit “Ghosts of Guatemala” for publication, and the story kept me hooked every step of the way. Great characters, an intriguing plot, and you end up learning a lot about Guatemala itself!
December 3, 2019
This is a classic page-turner. Although the author's debut novel, it's written well, has a historical twist, and filled my air travel very well. It even distracted me from the turbulence until I finished my chapter. Any thriller/mystery buff will love it!
Profile Image for Samantha Turley.
608 reviews16 followers
June 23, 2021
Latin America and drug lords. To me, this was the epitome of a thriller, the genre is NOT A LIE. It will keep you guessing and surprised through its entirety.
The characters were so great and came to life through the authors words.

I When dealing with a novel like this, you can have ups and downs and I liked that the author was able to keep everything steady throughout.

I really liked his writing style it had a great flow and was an easy read.
220 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2020
Spent the weekend in Antigua, Guatemala immersed in the dangerous world of the CIA and Latin American drug cartels. Quite a complicated plot and I had to re-read bits to make sure I was understanding it, but this was a cracking, fast paced narrative with an explosive ending. Its the first in a trilogy featuring CIA agent John Carpenter. Had a job getting past the fact that it was Antigua Guatemala, not Antigua West Indies, but got over that... Seriously, I enjoyed it when I didn't expect to.
116 reviews
June 19, 2021
Exotic Antigua in a dangerous Environment.

Great story with lots of intrigue and mystery, in a foreign locale with cartels and CIA. The reader is at the edge of their seat most of the time. The only drawback is the coarse language. Definitely will want to read the rest of the trilogy.
June 20, 2021
Very enjoyable page turner

I enjoyed the characters,the dialogue, the setting.I am very old and a voracious reader.I look forward to the next in the trilogy.
98 reviews
December 11, 2022
good read

Enjoyed the book very much. Good characters, good and bad. Waiting to read the next one will be worth waiting for.
April 5, 2020
The thing I like about spy novels is the easy reading and addicting narrative. This book has that in spades and I read most of the book in just a few weeks. I am generally not a big fan of spy-thrillers, but the characters were deeper and more interesting than I expected. I'm usually a historical fiction/ non-fiction reader, so I'd have liked even more development of the history and issues arising from it--even if I get that is not the point. I’d also say this book is a safe bet for people like me who don’t seek out of lots of blood and guts. It is a spy-thriller, but the gore balanced well with character and narrative development. Congratulations to the new author!
Profile Image for C. Gonzales.
847 reviews30 followers
June 15, 2021
Oh, the twists and turns! I really enjoyed everything from the storyline to the characters.
Glavac has made it to where we are on this mission in this foreign land and along with Carpenter we are trying to have justice served. To say I was invested is an understatement.
Do you enjoy action, suspense, mystery, and thrills? Books that draw you in and make you think? If so, read this! Enjoy!
1 review
March 21, 2020
Remarkable debut novel that takes the reader into the murky world of espionage in an exotic mysterious locale. Evoking LeCarre, the plot thickens and suspense builds as we ponder alliances, morals and loyalties to determine good guys from bad. Worth the read.
Profile Image for Kate Bishop.
1 review
March 27, 2020
The CIA. Drug cartels in Guatemala. A ruthless killing. Is this a Jack Ryan novel? Le Carré? An episode of Narcos?
Collin Glavac's first novel, "Ghosts of Guatemala" starts out as a conventional thriller, but goes in much more interesting directions than the usual formula. One gets a vivid sense of Guatemala as a place, its poverty and politics. And did you know there is a Mayan-Catholic religion there? I was hooked by the story immediately and enjoyed the interplay between the CIA agents. I particularly liked the character of the undercover agent working as the cartel leader's mistress. The plot moves quickly and cinematically, with some good twists. There was a little too much in the blood and guns department for me, but what else can you expect when you're dealing with the CIA and drug cartels?
March 30, 2020
Great read. Collin did a great job with his first novel. I primarily read this gendre of books and Ghosts of Guatemala falls easily in the category of the other authors. I looked forward to reading the book in the evening when I normally read to relax. Look forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,190 reviews9 followers
December 24, 2020
Wow talk about espionage, betrayal and secret agencies that work within their own rules! I loved this story and would love to read more. Its packed with action, betrayal, secretes and danger at every turn.

“In 1954, the democratically elected government of Guatemala was overthrown by the CIA.
More than 200,000 people were killed over the course of the 36-year-long civil war that began in 1960 and ended with the peace accords in 1996. About 83 percent of those killed were Mayan.”
1999 report written by the U.N. -backed Commission for the Historical Clarification titled “Guatemala: Memory of Silence”. https://hrdag.org/wp-content/uploads/... Page 13.

This story started out with action and the suspense, action, and danger continued on throughout the entire book. It is a great story and left me wanting more of these characters and areas of the CIA. I love a good suspense, corruption, thriller story and this book was a great read. The story of betrayal among family and Government agencies. It’s hard to tell if it’s one agency, department or individuals within a department. There’s no real conclusion as to who the betrayer is within the agency and the betrayal of the family leads to multiple deaths and danger lingering around every turn. I loved the suspense and danger that was lurking in this story. I give this story a 5-star review and will look for more by Collin Glavac to read. This was my first book by Mr. Glavac, but I look forward to more. His story was thrilling to read.
Profile Image for Linda Thompson .
353 reviews10 followers
October 27, 2020
I absolutely loved this book. It started with a dynamite prologue that gave an indication of what’s coming. Once you delve into the story you’ll find yourself captivated not only by the characters and the story, but by the writing and the depth of the story. This is not just your everyday thriller. Glavac’s use of word, description of characters, and how he weaves this story together to the conclusion is amazing. I loved this story and the characters, and I absolutely could not put it down until I reached the end. An added bonus is a lesson in a few Spanish words and phrases. John Carpenter is clearly a damaged soul, but the deeper you get into the book, you learn that he’s been conditioned to accept it without question. If it weren’t absolutely necessary for the flow of the story, I would be outraged at the obvious manipulation of one person by another (and this doesn’t just hold for Carpenter, but other characters as well). I was fascinated by the descriptions of Guatemala and learned things about the country of which I knew little about. The ending, while not a cliffhanger, clearly opens the door for the next book featuring John Carpenter and I am eager for it to appear. Glavac’s back story about his writing career is intriguing and the collaboration with his father shows a very close relationship between the two. A fabulous book by a very talented new author.
4,988 reviews24 followers
May 9, 2021
It is a mission like many he has done before, and yet something is different here. Our hero doesn't know who he can trust, even on his own side.

This is an action thriller story. The story is very well written and captivating, drawing you in from the start and never letting go. Both the characters and the plot are well developed and yet I never felt lost as I worked my way through the twists and turns of the story. I really liked our hero and watching him work his way through the puzzle that was the mission. Overall, it was a highly enjoyable story and I look forward to more from this author.

Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from Hidden Gems for review purposes.
Profile Image for Maria Logan-Montgomery.
306 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2020
I was invited by the publisher to read Ghosts of Guatemala, the debut novel by Collin Glavac, in exchange for an honest review. Ghosts is the first book of a trilogy. After a somewhat slow start, the action begins, and the story is realistic and entertaining.

Would a drug lord be so brazen as to attempt to blackmail a CIA agent? You bet he would. “The Company” sends their best covert operative, John Carpenter to work with another agent already undercover inside the cartel.

John navigates the complexities of being a covert agent as he tutors the child of the drug lord in order to take down the cartel. Follow John as he becomes a trusted employee of the family.

What made The Grumpy Book Reviewer grumpy?

There were some typos and places where it was clear spell correction had struck again. Aside from that, there were:

• some redundancies within the text of a paragraph;
• some incorrect verb usage;
• some redundancies;
• some incorrect pronouns; and
• my pet peeve, split infinitives.
Profile Image for Jay Williams.
1,710 reviews20 followers
December 25, 2020
Our country has a shameful history in Guatemala. This story uses the continuing presence of CIA operatives in the country to tell a story of treachery and greed. The action is entirely consistent with our actions to support the wrong people. It begins with the death of an American assassin who was betrayed by his own people. The writing is taut and carries the action without getting too gory. The characters are well-defined and consistent. The tension is increased by the eruption of a volcano as the operatives make their move. I got a copy of this book through Hidden Gems. I liked it well enough to write a review. The story is compelling and all too true.
2 reviews
January 19, 2020
This was just what I was looking for - fast paced with characters that I wanted to know more about. Colin has quickly developed a protagonist that you want to see in another book. I have traveled to Guatemala and specifically Antigua many times. During the read I could authenticate and when necessary imagine the scene for this story. The pace was consistent with a nice amount of cultural education seamlessly linked to the characters. This added depth and interest while not distracting from the Tom Clancy like storyline. I hope there are more stories to follow.
Profile Image for Melissa.
169 reviews6 followers
July 11, 2021
Compelling Spy/Black Ops Story with Great Characters and a Good Amount of (Recent) Guatemalan History

I decided to read this after recent travel to Guatemala and reading Rigoberta Menchu's book. I like a bit of action-packed fiction interspersed with well-researched historical facts to round out my familiarity with a place. This book fit that bill, and was an enjoyable read. Now I'm hooked and will read the other two books in the trilogy.

55 reviews
July 26, 2021
John carpenter is the kind of man I trust truly exists!

This is an action book, thriller, That is so difficult to put down . I finished it into evenings virtually nonstop. Action, intrigued, Clandestine operation, a Superb and believable hero, A femme fatale Who is also as deadly as they come In a book as well package does this will have me a Mr. Glavac Fan for quite some time! Super reading!

Profile Image for Jess.
1 review
January 11, 2020
Highly enjoyable thrill ride. Excellent writing and character development. Kept me turning page after page to see what would happen next. Very excited to read the next instalment and learn what is next on John’s journey.
Profile Image for E.A. Briginshaw.
Author 12 books51 followers
June 18, 2020
With so many characters introduced at the start of the book, I initially found it a little confusing, but the story became more engaging after that. It is very well written, especially for a first-time author.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews

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