Fiction - Suspense
302 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

Contention: A Novel of International Suspense and Intrigue by Gary D. McGugan introduces readers to Fidelia Morales, the leader of one of the most prominent groups in the sinister world of organized crime. Living under Fidelia's strict control, Howard Knight masterminded various crimes for her and her illicit organization. Howard wanted his freedom and asked Fidelia to give him a chance to create a new corporate espionage operation based on the island of Aruba. Suzanne Simpson, a wealthy, intelligent, and honorable woman, was the chief executive and owner of Multima Corporation but she was in the way of Fidelia and Howard's plans. Fidelia had always wanted to take over Multima Corporation, one of the biggest companies in the world, and was determined to accomplish her goal. Would Suzanne recognize the warning signs of imminent danger in time to protect her company?

Contention by Gary D. McGugan is an edge-of-your-seat thriller, and I was hooked from the first page. It was fast-paced and full of action. With all the twists and turns, I never knew what would happen next. There was always a surprise waiting around the corner. The characters were well developed. They were authentic and relatable. The stories of the three main characters were woven together intriguingly. Each character had a background story, and I got to know them better as a result. The story is well-written, and I was engrossed throughout. Reading this account was a nail-biting experience that had me guessing until the end. It was much more than I expected.

Keith Mbuya

Howard Knight knew that it was a long shot but he believed that he had to give it a try. He had endured enough of life in the shadow of crime boss Fidelia Morales. He wanted out. His next big move was to start a company specializing in corporate espionage. Apart from being her lover, Howard’s financial genius had made Fedelia and her crime syndicate hundreds of millions of dollars. With Fidelia’s long-held aspirations of acquiring a business giant in the US, what would Howard’s fate be? On the other hand, Suzanne Simpson, the CEO of Multima, America’s largest chain of supermarkets, found herself trapped in an ugly tussle with adversaries who would do anything to either put her out of business or take over her company. Would Suzanne survive the storm coming her way? Find out in Gary. D. McGugan’s Contention.

Lovers of crime novels based on tales of dirty deals, deceit, secrets, money laundering, human trafficking, espionage, blackmail, ruthless crime bosses, underdogs, and law enforcement agencies will find that Gary. D. McGugan’s Contention is an enthralling read. McGugan shaped an intriguing plot, with a subtle tone to the storyline. I could never tell where the plot was headed. The vivid descriptions had me feeling as if I was right next to every role-player as each scene unfolded. The array of participants was authentic and they were easy to connect with. Deep down behind the mask of a hardened, manipulative, callous, vengeful, and fiercely protective woman that Fidelia wore was an emotionally vulnerable woman who carried much hurt and pain, and who cared deeply about how people perceived her. Contention can best be savored by reading the preceding books in the series.

Essien Asian

From the relative obscurity of the escort business, Fidelia Morales has worked her way up to become the head of a massive criminal organization. The FBI and other international agencies still seek a means to bring her down but she believes she can continue to hold them at bay with the aid of her loyal lieutenants. When longtime friend Howard Knight comes to her with a proposal for a new business, she has mixed feelings. He may have been the one man to win her heart and help her amass a fortune but what he proposes will separate them permanently. That may not be such a bad idea seeing that Howard has previously proven that his loyalty can be bought. Fidelia must choose between her heart and her business in Gary D. McGugan’s Contention.

The darkness of organized crime is combined with boardroom politics in Gary D. McGugan’s novel. He crafts an impressive tale with characters whose origin stories are as exciting to read as the unfolding adventure. His plot has all the trappings of a criminal underworld power tussle but the way he intertwines the legal and business aspects of running a modern-day conglomerate is flawless. From the backstabbing to the clandestine phone tapping, you feel as if you are caught up in a spy thriller. Fidelia’s dealings with Luigi felt like a classic chess game but the best part for me was Howard’s tap water observations in Curacao. Despite all the high-octane activity and boardroom drama, at times Contention feels like a complicated love triangle but I'll leave it to the reader to draw their conclusions. McGugan weaves a riveting story that is difficult to put down. He deserves plaudits for this impressive work.

Chinazo Anozie

Contention by Gary D. McGugan is a crime thriller that follows two women leaders heading up multinational corporations but on different ends of the spectrum: one, a conglomerate with a chain of supermarkets, and the other, one of the largest crime organizations in the world. Suzanne Simpson is the CEO of Multima Corporation, and she is doing her best to take it to its full potential, while Fidelia Morales is the ruthless head of a crime syndicate known as The Organization. Both women are seeking to cement their positions in power while making a play for the other’s business. They’ve never met but have more in common than they realize. In this corporate power play, who will come out on top?

I loved reading about both women in power; I admired how they handled it—regardless of their respective roles as protagonist and antagonist. The plot development is superb. McGugan starts by introducing the key characters and their roles in both Multima and The Organization, which, at first glance, seem like worlds apart, leaving readers wondering how Fidelia and Suzanne connect. The pacing and suspense intensify as both worlds gradually collide, and Fidelia and Suzanne slowly make their way toward each other through a host of secondary characters. Switching between some of these characters’ perspectives also gave insights into their feelings, especially as Fidelia closed the book on some of her rebellious associates. I loved every bit of Contention, and McGugan’s past experience of the corporate world and its power play is evident in his storytelling.

K.C. Finn

Contention is a work of fiction in the crime, mystery, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is best suited to adult readers and was penned by author Gary D. McGugan. The work takes us on a thrilling tale of power, ambition, and intrigue in the world of organized crime. Fidelia Morales, the supreme mobster, controls a criminal empire with interests in various illicit activities. She rules with an iron fist, and her financial genius, Howard Knight, has served her well in managing cyber currency operations. However, Howard yearns for freedom and wants to break away from Fidelia's control. The story unfolds as Howard seeks to embark on a new venture involving corporate espionage from a Caribbean island. Fidelia faces a dilemma. Should she allow Howard to pursue his ambitions or manipulate him into achieving her dream of controlling a massive publicly traded business?

Author Gary D. McGugan has crafted a vivid and visceral work of suspense fiction that deeply explores the clash of two powerful characters' aspirations while placing Suzanne Simpson, the CEO of Multima Corporation, in their criminal crosshairs. The narrative is filled with gasp-worthy moments as it navigates the dangerous world of crime and corporate power, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with some very clever pacing and plot hooks. McGugan's flair for dialogue is clear from the off, serving not only to characterize the key figures well but to move the plot forward in interesting, naturalistic ways that never slow down the pace. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Contention for fans of excellent and suspenseful crime thrillers everywhere.