Human Solutions, by Avi Silberstein

I received a free copy of this ebook to review from Edelweiss, on behalf of the publisher. It will be released 1 April 2014.

18210918A word, a gesture, a nudge, or even a chicken and an electric fence can be just what you need to make an angry boss stop harassing a put-upon book, a weatherman fall in love with a woman with a crush, or even rescue a boy from a madman. Javier Gonzalez and his company specialize in providing the necessary manipulation in Avi Silberstein’s Human Solutions. Javier works with actors, a psychologist, and a private detective to arrange things for their clients. They never go too far, because that would be ridiculously foolish in Pinochet’s Chile in the mid-1980s.

After years of seeing how easily people can be pushed this way and that have made Javier jaded. A good day at work puts him in a good enough mood to be manipulated (browbeaten) into accepting his sister’s invitation to a party, where she sets him up with the lovely Elena. Things go well until Elena tells Javier that she can’t see her son. She trusted some disastrous advise about a boarding school that now won’t let any of the parents see their children. Elena is heartbroken. Because Javier is so twitter-pated by her, he takes on the most risky job of his life. He will walk into the Colony and walk out with Elena’s son.

The Colony was founded by a German prophet who insists that people call him Uncle Peter. He’s an extremely dictatorial pederast who is a skilled manipulator in his own right, who has everyone in his little utopia spying on and denouncing each other. It takes all of Javier’s skill to rescue Elena’s son and walk out unscathed.

A lot happens in less than 300 pages in this short novel, but I wish that it was longer. The blistering speed of Human Solutions left me feeling that Silberstein squandered a unique premise. Javier and his team are so much more interesting than the usual police procedural or private eye thriller.

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