Book Review: Mark Gilleo’s Sweat

Posted September 17, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mark Gilleo’s SweatSweat on August 28, 2012 and has 366 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.


A political thriller that explores the dirty side of politics and business when it comes to sweatshops. Sweat was nominated in 2014 for the International Book Award for Thriller/Adventure and the National Indie Excellence Awards.

Review source: The Story Plant, Stamford, Connecticut.

My Take

Nice set-up. Pretty long set-up, too. There wasn’t a depth of tension or drama in this. Mostly, I read on to discover what would happen next. How would Jake solve this? Who gets caught?

Gilleo set up a number of subplots within that kept things interesting with some unexpected twists along the way. On the whole, I liked his characters. Yeah, even Peter Winthrop. At least Peter was honest about himself and I can appreciate that. Senator Day and the Changs…well, ya gotta have a few bad guys so you have someone to hiss at. Every time I started to feel sorry for Day, all I had to do was remember his initial action at Chang Industries’ gate. The lies he documented. His ensuing actions simply put paid to any sympathy from me.

The only real adults in this are the ones without the power. And the ones who take it all down! Woo-hoo! It’s just one guy who rallies his friends. Refuses to sit back and accept. Admittedly, this is fictional, but it still gives ya something to think about.

You too can sign up to track how your government representatives are voting with the feds and your state!

Jake is such an adult! I love how he checks his father out and realizes how right his mother was!

This is why I will never be rich. Why I could never run for political office. And this is business-as-usual for people like this. Scum.

Oops, I don’t think the “good” doctor should have flung that line.

How disgusting is this that Saipan is a U.S. territory and can officially claim that goods made there are “Made in the U.S.A.” and yet they do not have to conform to U.S. employment law?

I did love the turnabout Chow Ying creates.

I do hope Gilleo intends a series. I’d love to find out what happens between Jake and Kate, especially with her dad hovering about. I’d love to know what Peter does next as well. He does seem to know his son and didn’t hold a grudge over the various raids and lies he intercepts.

The Story

Jake Patrick is at a crossroads in his life. His mother has just died after a long, debilitating illness, and he’s facing the loss of his childhood home in an attempt to meet the tremendous medical bills. He needs a job, a roof over his head, and to get back into school to finish getting his master’s.

He figures why not get to know his absentee dad and get a job at the same time. It’s a momentous decision for Jake as well as a number of others.

His father, Peter Winthrop, is curious about his son and gives him a cushy job — I think he’s more interested in having an audience to play to, to show off with than in making up for lost time.

Senator Day is so typical of many of today’s politicians. Interested in lining his own pockets at the expense of his constituents. Believing he can get away with anything.

C.F. Chang and his son, Lee, believe they are God and order their universe accordingly. Anyone not them is less than nothing.

Jake is the catalyst around whom events will converge.

The Characters

Peter Winthrop is the selfish CEO of Winthrop Enterprises who ignored his ex-wife and son. A user, he’ll do anything to make a buck. Marilyn Ford is his assistant and switchboard, operating “as the final barrier to communication between the outside world and her boss”. Camille is his father’s housekeeper.

Jake Patrick is Peter’s son. His mother has just died of cancer and he has hundreds of thousands in medical bills. Selling his childhood home will help a bit.

Kate Sorrentino is his new girlfriend. A woman he met at a bar when she and her friends were scavenger hunting as part of her friend’s bachelorette night. Her parents, James and Cynthia Sorrentino, are extremely concerned about her choice in boyfriend and daddy puts the arm on Jake. Tony and the cousins, Eddie and Mike Castello, appear to be thugs working for Sorrentino.

Al Korgaokar is the man Marilyn sets Jake up with; a homeowner who is homeless, a spy who quit. His brother, Don, has been occupying his house for the past six years.

Senator John Day is ambitious and has plans for the presidency. Naturally, this means that he’ll screw anything that moves while his pregnant wife is at home. Scott Ryder is his chief aide and head of public relations. Doug the Page and Dana the Bimbo are trying to make up for Scott’s absence. Vincent DiMarco is a Southie assassin who got too cocky.

The Chang family runs a sweatshop in Saipan using slave labor. Lee Chang has been assigned as punishment to supervise its operation. Chow Ying, a.k.a., the Mountain of Shanghai, works directly for Lee, but actually for his father. C.F. Chang is the father and he’ll choose money over family every time.

Wei Ling is, unfortunately, pregnant. Her employers use her body to influence politicians and other potentially useful people. The rest of the time she works in the sweatshop. Shi Shi Wong is her friend and bunkmate. Dr. Hao Kuang Yu is a sadistic bastard who can’t wait to experiment on Wei Ling.

Mr. Wu runs a Chang sweatshop in New York City.

Captain Marco Talua is in charge of the Saipan PD and a bed with handcuffs dangling is not something he can brush off. Tom Foti is the chief of the Liaison Office for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan. And a friend of Al’s.

Kazu Ito is a straight-A student who was gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time by racist cops. Amy Grant is a “firefighter” for Republic Outfitters.

Detective Earl Wallace takes on Marilyn’s case with the help of Detective Nguyen.

Hasad Bakar is a rich idiot with an even richer father. Onur Bakar is a billionaire shipping mogul.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a collage with its classic close-up of the Capitol building at night contrasting in so many ways with the close-up of the sewing machine needle which is bordered by the chainlink fence topped with razor wire. How appropriate that the seamy underbelly of manufacturing appears at the bottom of the cover, underneath the Capitol, bathed in a fog, perhaps in yet another attempt to hide what politicians and lobbyists do to line their pockets.

The title is perfect. It’s a shared reaction the enslaved workers, the nervous senator, and the pissed-off industrialist do — Sweat.


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