• Available: October 17th, 2011
  • Published by: MarthaBooks Press
  • Formats: Paperback, eBook
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A Customs Affair

Set in 1978, this suspense-thriller tracks a year in the life of a young widowed Customs Inspector, Christine Keaton, a single mother, who is trying to balance her life and manage her career in the days of the women’s movement when women were rare and sometimes unwelcome in the male dominated world of law enforcement. The crash of a flight from Bogotá, Columbia on the runway of J.F.K. Airport where Christine works leads to an investigation of the smuggling of cocaine and child pornography into the United States which quickly becomes personal as a passenger who lies dying points the way to a drug cartel, begging Christine to stop the atrocities committed by the leaders of the cartel, some of which involve the abuse of children. The United States Customs Service jumps in, and Christine is at the forefront of the investigation which changes her life forever as she faces an adversary so evil and powerful that it becomes doubtful that even the full force of the U.S. government can stop him. A novel of courage, hope, action, love, and suspense, A Customs Affair gives the reader an insider’s view of the U.S. Customs Service in the 1970’s when women were new to law enforcement careers and before technology all but eliminated the hands on, high risk business of being a Customs Inspector.

Like fine wine and beautiful women, author Patricia Riley Leyden is improving with age!
Paul Weiss

For those readers that like their thrillers straight up and uncomplicated, A CUSTOMS AFFAIR, Patricia Riley Leyden’s second literary outing, is sure to please.

A young widow and a single mother, Christine Keaton is a senior Customs Inspector at JFK airport in the late 1970s, a time when women in professional careers were few and far between and those in the law enforcement profession were even rarer than that. When her skills and performance earn her a promotion to an undercover investigative team that threatens to disrupt the smuggling pipeline for a steady stream of cocaine with a sideline of child pornography, the early successes of the team disrupt some rich shipments and result in the arrests of a number of the mules and some minor players in the crime ring. But the leader of the cartel isn’t taking kindly to interference and starts a personal vendetta against Ms Keaton and her family to get his message across to the US authorities.

I have to hand it to Ms Leyden. Despite the fact that there isn’t an unexpected twist, turn or red herring in the entire novel, I was unable to set it aside for a moment. The action is fast-paced and continuous and even when events are quite predictable, I still found myself drawing in my breath and continuing to flip the pages quite relentlessly. Leyden’s portrayal of Keaton’s conflicted emotions between assuming the danger of her professional role as an undercover investigator and ensuring that she is available as a loving parent for her daughter is exceptionally well done.

If the identity of the ultimate bad guy hadn’t been quite so transparently telegraphed and if the ending was just a little less over the top Hollywood and not quite so clichéd, I would have had no hesitation at all in awarding A CUSTOMS AFFAIR five stars. But the easy reading entertainment value of a fine novel makes it a simple chore to give it four stars.

  • A Customs Affair was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.