THE MEETING POINT

FICTION BY EDWARD KLEINGUETL

1st Books Library; June, 2002
ISBN: 1-40330-427-0
Fans of action and espionage fiction will be entertained by The Meeting Point, the debut novel from management consultant Edward Kleinguetl. Much like the novel’s main character, successful investment banker Deke Koenig, Mr. Kleinguetl brings more to the table than the novel’s calm exterior might betray. Well-written and brimming with exhaustive and, one might conclude, quite accurate detail, The Meeting Point bodes well for the continued development of Mr. Kleinguetl’s abilities.
         When Deke Koenig is approached by mysterious South Africans bearing pictures of a Cuban general, he is bewildered–then intrigued. Raúl Arrocha, the one-time seminary student turned communist agitator who dishonored Koenig’s friendship, is the target of an intricate kidnapping plot to take place at his base in Angola. Rather than dwell on political action, Mr. Kleinguetl successfully takes the reader through the ex-SEAL’s emotional responses; anger and confusion harden into the steely will of a confident competitor tasked with a Mission Impossible-esque challenge. Of course Koenig accepts the South African’s assignment.
         Koenig puts together a crack team of former SEALs augmented by specially selected South Africans for six weeks of training followed by a painstakingly planned attack on Arrocha’s compound. But the avid reader cackles in delight with the foreknowledge that even the best-laid plans go awry, and The Meeting Point is no exception. Koenig and his men successfully capture Arrocha, only to have their escape to Zaire blocked by a double-crossing element that does not want a victorious rebel party on their hands.
         What follows is a bloody, costly battle in which Koenig sustains both bodily injury and the trauma of losing his men. As in life, success and failure in The Meeting Place are not black and white. Arrocha’s kidnapping turns out to be a "liberation" for both men, who are now free to make attachments to family and friends that they never before permitted themselves.
         Mr. Kleinguetl has done an admirable job of splicing together a fantastic amount of historical detail in an easily readable and quite enjoyable manner. His style is brisk and even, and he carries action sequences well. This reviewer was disappointed in the author’s portrayal of Koenig’s love interest, in whom we hope he ultimately finds more to admire than her sparkling blue eyes. More than making up for that fault, however, is the manner in which Mr. Kleinguetl delivers the most masculine of scenes without an accompanying stench of laughable machismo.
         Indeed, the book’s only major error is its length. Mr. Kleinguetl takes the road less travelled when he chooses to describe the approach, the training, the mission, and the consequences in such detail. Because that is the exception rather than the rule in military literature, the pace feels leisurely, at times overly so.
        Ultimately, however, the book’s heft cannot overshadow Mr. Kleinguetl’s deft handling of setting and situation. The Meeting Point is an excellent addition to any action-lover’s library.