By Kirkus Indie
Sex, money and politics drive this thriller about a corrupt network designed to exploit wealthy but vulnerable AIDS patients. This is Smolders’ (The Convenient Fund,2012, etc.) fourth novel and his second specifically about the Dominican Republic’s AIDS crisis. It begins inside the troubling Santo Domingo–area practice of Dr. Barone, who offers treatment, discretion and “protection” from discrimination for his HIV-positive patients—for a stiff price. When one of his patients balks at an increased fee and is later found shot dead, execution style, the plot thickens: Barone’s colleague, Carla, flees the country, and her friend, fellow physician Silvia Herrera, must unravel the mystery, assisted by French journalist and AIDS activist Mathieu “Tim” Timonier, a returning character from Smolders’ debut novel, Viral Games (2012). The novel takes readers from yachts and galas in Santo Domingo to wild SUV rides through the rain forest and from a lush resort in Punta Cana to a secluded monastery in Venezuela. The thriller’s plot delivers. The story is fast-paced, engaging and complex enough to keep readers guessing who the real bad guys are.

Lots of action, an international cast of characters and a socially conscious theme make this book a good beach read.

Kirkus Media LLC,

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Wonderful thrill ride! April 28, 2012
By Shereen Fawzy
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Viral Games such a wonderful and touching suspense-filled mystery,about a very sensitive topic. The characters are so moving and their struggle is one we want them to win. Great writing and look forward to the next installment!! Thanks Mr. Smolders for dealing with such a taboo subject with such class and sensitivity. Well done!


Exciting and topical mystery April 14, 2012
By Max Goldensohn
Format:Amazon Paperback
Viral Games is a well-written, well-plotted mystery about that most critical of issues: the way the world treats the victims of the HIV virus and AIDS. Mr. Smolders has brought his characters to life and brings us to care about their struggles against those corrupt malefactors who profit from others' efforts to cobat this plague.


Barnes and Noble
Posted April 22, 2012
This book provides an interesting background of the commercial background of Aids fighting in the South American scene . It has a serious dosis of reality setting. The story moves quickly, the intrigue is well developped and it remains thrilling up to the end. You will not be disappointed and you will not consider you have lost your time in reading it.


Smolders brings how life is lived in the Caribbean nations and blends it with the world of greed and corruption to produce a read that is action packed from the first page to the last. This is a page-turning read with a bonus of learning about the real world of how "games" are played with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. - Howard Fikes



4.0 out of 5 stars Attention grabber August 14, 2012

By Louis J Breesch

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified PurchaseDifficult to put my I-PAD down. It is a real thriller with an an unexpected ending, it keeps you guessing who done it..


4.0 out of 5 stars International Who Done It August 25, 2012



A fast and enjoyable read. A 'who done it' set in an international business atmosphere with lots of in-fighting among the family business members along with corporate dirty tricks.



August 15, 2012

I love reading mysteries and the added intrigue of charitable do

I love reading mysteries and the added intrigue of charitable donations
on the international scene and the associated crime is all very relevant
in today's world -- makes for a most interesting and enjoyable read. I
look forward to more books by Mr. Smolders..........BCD


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read! September 3, 2012


Exciting thriller, full of action and intrigue! Suspenseful till the end... Smolders writes as if it were non-fiction, with a topic taken from real life: "What happens behind the scenes at an international AIDS foundation?" He lifts the curtain on a world of corruption, drugs and crime in the Carribean, and teaches us about international relations and AIDS treatment. The author is clearly an experienced businessman, a sharp observer and psychologist. The images he evokes are incredibly vivid. Outstanding writing!!! I look forward to reading his next books!!!


Kirkus Reviews

In Smolders’ debut novel, organizations working together in the fight against AIDS also battle corruption.


Someone kills Anita Tavares of the World AIDS Support Group as she leaves a Santo Domingo airport. The motive could be robbery, but Parisian journalist Mathieu “Tim” Timonier believes the reason is far more sinister, particularly after learning the contents of Anita’s luggage. Tim and Julio Diaz, head of the Alliance, another group against AIDS, slowly uncover unscrupulous dealings with pharmaceuticals. At first glance, Smolders’ book is a murder mystery. The inspired prologue takes place at the magazine where Tim works, as his boss considers his proposed article about the Santo Domingo killing. But though the murder initiates a timeline for events (some chapters open with the duration of time since the woman’s death), the story isn’t a whodunit. In fact, the murder all but takes a back seat. Instead, it’s a story of morality, or the lack thereof. In one remarkably potent scene, three men in Singapore discuss meds for AIDS patients, and though the drug could be totally ineffective, the talk revolves almost completely around money. The author maintains suspense throughout, particularly with an impending second murder and the potential assassin’s three-day deadline. The author handles the subject matter respectfully; the illness is never merely a plot device. The murderer’s identity is eventually made known, but by that point in the book, it’s become a question of consequence, not revelation, and the story steers clear of a neat bad-guys-must-be-punished Hollywood ending. Smolders’ occasionally clipped sentences—in narrative or emails to the magazine—ensure interest and readability.

Murder, deceit and general law-breaking are simply the icing; a prevalent dramatic resonance is the cake.


Foreword Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars By: Sheila M. Trask
Who would want to kill Anita Tavares, the representative of a world-famous AIDS charity based in Stockholm? What was she hiding in the luggage that went missing on her trip to the Dominican Republic? How did French journalist Mathieu “Tim” Timonier come to be with Ms. Tavares on that fateful flight? These are just a few of the intriguing questions that open Jan Smolders’s international thriller, Viral Games.

Smolders tackles the questions from several different angles through a complex network of characters who aren’t always what they seem. Readers meet physicians like the powerful Dr. Enrique Cuevas and the mysterious Dr. Erica Sotomayor, who may be dedicated doctors or sidewinding swindlers. Charity leaders like Julio Diaz and Pascual Torres enter the picture alongside businessmen from Jakarta and Santo Domingo. It’s up to Tim to figure out which of
these players are honest participants in aid distribution and which are in it for more selfish reasons.

Smolders does an excellent job of portraying the extreme rural poverty in the Dominican Republic and contrasting it with the incredible wealth of many Latin American cities. A world traveler, Smolders is an expert tour guide of downtown Santo Domingo, and names most all of the streets along with their expensive restaurants and hotels. He also takes readers into nearby rural households that have little or no access to clean water, transportation, or medical care. Readers meet HIV/AIDS patients Maria Teresa and Jorge, whose only medical care comes courtesy of the charitable clinics set up in the Dominican bateys. Like countless others, these patients rely heavily on help from charities that send aid workers, medication, and money into the region. It is this influx of riches that Smolders focuses on. What would happen if some unsavory types were to take advantage of the international aid system?

Greed is a powerful motivator, and several characters get involved in the illegal business of diverting expensive antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) needed by HIV/AIDS patients. They seem not only willing to risk the health of the patients who are desperate for ARVs, but even their own health, since illicit drug use and sexual promiscuity are also part of their game. Indeed, some of the dealers find they have also become patients.

Smolders deals out bits and pieces of his characters’ lives through isolated conversations that start to suggest how each is related to the other. As Tim painstakingly puts the pieces together, so does the reader, with the final resolution successfully held off until the very end. The complexity can be overwhelming, as the cast of characters and their associated organizations is vast, but Smolders recaps the action in several places and also offers information in a glossary at the front of the book.

Sleuthing out the clues and connections keeps readers engaged as Smolders carefully reveals the lengths to which his villains will go to reap their financial rewards. Readers who love intricate thrillers based on real-life events will enjoy Viral Games.


Blueink Review (Reviewed: November 2012)
Viral Games is set in modern-day Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and focuses on the operations of AVISIDA, an organization educating the poor and treating those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. AVISIDA is far from scrupulous in its “Good Samaritan” practices.

The lid of the group’s façade is blown sky-high when Anita Tavares, a high-ranking financier of a global donor foundation that controls millions of dollars of fund monies for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such s AVISIDA, is murdered shortly after arriving in Santo Domingo. Rumors spread that she may have been killed to prevent the incriminating contents of her stolen luggage from reaching authorities. And so the shady players in the story rush to protect their profit-making schemes from being uncovered by the police and the press. Greed runs rampant in a system where underpaid staff is easily corrupted.

It doesn’t take long before another murder, that of Julio Diaz, the honest director of ALLIANCE (an AIDS NGO), is killed by a hit man in Columbia. Are the murders connected? Blackmailers get to work threatening those in power to expose their nefarious secrets.

Author Jan Smolders has not only crafted a suspenseful thriller but succeeded in bringing to light a startling truth: profits often rule over justice for the victims of AIDS. Readers may encounter some confusion in the story’s use of similar Latino names, such as Enrique, Eugenio and Emilio. Regardless, such a minor drawback is easily overlooked by the merits of extensive character development and steady pacing, and the author’s eye-opening insights into the dark side of organizations entrusted to save lives.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.


The Convenient Fund


5.0 out of 5 stars Smolders does it again December 21, 2012
By howard Fikes
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Fantastic read. Smolders has written another great book. Keeps you on edge until the very last page. This read is educational as well as very enjoyable.


4.0 out of 5 stars When do they make the movie? December 11, 2012
By John Mollet
Smolders' narrative gets better and better with each new book. I could not put this book down as I normally would do after each chapter.
The description of places in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Florida, of situations and people is very believable and one can sense the author has actually been to these exotic and yes, sometimes very dangerous, places. It is fun to read that age is only in the mind and that seniors do not have to feel old and can be just as adventurous as the younger characters in the story.
The author understands human nature well, and that is what the story is actually about.
I can see a movie in the future.


5.0 out of 5 stars The Convenient Fund is fascinating November 2, 2012
By Marjo De Schepper, Belgium
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

The Convenient Fund is a fascinating book with a very original and thrilling plot that takes place in Colombia and the Caribbean and that captivates you until the end. I have read this book in one go and was submerged in the vivid sketched locations and intriguing tale. The psychology of the different characters is well defined and interesting. I can strongly recommend this book, there is a lot to find out.


Smolders, Jan
iUniverse (274 pp.)
ISBN: 978-1475933437; August 17, 2012

A young woman finds her life in danger when she puts a Colombian village’s economic future above her own in Smolders’ (The Bridge of Whispers, 2012, etc.) latest novel.
Gloria Romero is a young humanitarian working for the Futuro Fund in Colombia, which is backed by mining company The Silverman Group. In Cupíca, a small coastal village surrounded by jungle, everyone welcomes Gloria’s new ideas for manufacturing and fishing—except Marcos Rojas, who also works for the Fund. Marcos takes a fee from the local Paisas to ensure their control of fish distribution in the area, and he stymies Gloria in order to protect his financial arrangement—even when he finds out he’s the father of her unborn child. Gloria’s only true supporter is her boss, Liliana, a Silverman Group lawyer in Bogotá. The same night that Gloria presents a grand plan for an improved economic future, she disappears—only to reappear in Haiti, where she’s kidnapped and held for ransom. Facing a tough decision, Marcos and the Silverman Group launch a rescue plan. Smolders creates just the right amount of suspense throughout, with the omniscient narrator providing key insight into the characters’ thoughts and motivations (“She sighed as her thoughts turned to other Marcos-related matters. He wasn’t ready for a commitment. I should’ve known. For me, he’s gone. She knew herself, and she knew she couldn’t live with a man she’d have to share with a crowd.”). However, nothing is ever made too obvious to readers, and the author weaves the characters’ intriguing power plays with the flavor and danger of both Colombia and Haiti. Overall, Smolders delivers a convincing, understated thriller that brings Gloria’s humanitarian efforts, and the obstacles she faces, to vivid life.

An engaging international thriller.

Kirkus Reviews


I finished Alone in Boca Raton in about 48 hours! Jan Smolders tells an intriguing tale as he lets us peer into the lives of undocumented workers, their immigrant families and the fears that they deal with on a daily basis. Mario is an educated Mexican man who finds a sponsor in Erin in hopes of getting his green card. His mother and two siblings cross the border illegally and this throws off all of his person plans. He goes and rescues them but they are soon put in a detentioncenter and his brother is kidnapped. In the midst of the high drama, he finds love but fights against some opposing forces which almost cost him everything. Read Alone in Boca Raton to see how Mario fares! A real page-turner!

Lynn M Dixon


A young immigrant’s hopes of securing a green card are complicated by the appearance of his family and a growing romance with the daughter of his boss in Smolders’ (Tennessee Tremors, 2014, etc.) thriller. After finishing his studies in the United States, Mario Osorio finds himself working as a hotel valet in Boca Raton, Florida, while his visa approaches expiration and he contemplates his potential return to Mexico. A kind gesture toward Erin, one of the hotel’s wealthy patrons, yields the opportunity to gain not only a new career, but also a sponsor who could help him obtain a green card. Shortly after accepting Erin’s offer of sponsorship, the sudden appearance of Mario’s family threatens his prospects. Forced to flee Mexico to escape domestic abuse, Mario’s mother and siblings cross the border and turn to him for help. Meanwhile, Mario’s life grows more complicated. As he grows closer to Jenny, Erin’s beautiful daughter, he catches the unwelcome attention of Jenny’s boyfriend. Ted is immediately suspicious of Mario’s relationship with Jenny, and Mario believes Ted is involved in illegal activities. When Mario’s family is captured by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and his young brother’s abducted and held for ransom, Mario immediately blames Ted and appeals to Erin’s shady business partner for help. The novel touches on the struggles faced by undocumented people living in the U.S., as well as the hardships that face those working toward obtaining U.S. citizenship. Smolders is an adept writer within the genre, carefully teasing out the multiple elements of the plot without giving them away too quickly. While the novel won’t surprise fans of the genre, it’s an easy read that adds a layer of social commentary. An entertaining thriller that broaches social-justice issues.



I have read all of Jan's books and this is once again a great read that I could not put down (read it in 2 days). A person would never know that locating a large manufacturing plant in a small town could be so intense and cut throat and all the other things that go with it. I really enjoyed the characters as Jan describes them in such a way that you feel you have known them all your life. I found myself trying to guess what they were planning next and I was always surprised. Jan unfolds the story in a way that only he can tell it because of his experiences, travels and superb articulate writing skills.

Howard Fikes

I have read all five of Jan Smolder's novels. I am in awe of Jan's ability to weave such intriguing stories in so many international settings. I'm sure his extensive international business experience has given him great insight into world geography, cultures and politics. When reading any of Jan's books I feel like I am right on location wherever the story unfolds. "Tennessee Tremors" had a great twist at the end. And I like that Jan included a list of characters in the front of the book. I look forward to reading all of Jan's future books.

Louis T Zawislak


Author Information

Jan Smolders, author of Viral Games, The Convenient Fund, The Bridge of Whispers and Ripping the Veil carries Belgian and USA passports, has lived in Belgium, Japan and Singapore, and resides in Florida. Read More...