The Alcatraz Option, a crime/sci-fi saga, begins in December 2015 with the escape by the famous Mexican drug lord, "El Chapo" from the so-called "escape proof" Altiplano prison and extends into the 2040s. During his brief period of freedom, El-Chapo makes fundamental changes to the way his cartel operates. These changes impact the future of drug cartels in Mexico and the lives of the principal characters in the novel, Hector Morales, Rebecca Levy and Daniel Levy.
Rebecca an American, and Morales, a Mexican meet as teenagers and have a passionate summer romance. Neither has a clue as to how their lives will intertwine in the future. For Rebecca, Morales is little more than a distant memory. For Morales, she remains an overwhelming and irrational obsession that grips him into adulthood and drives him to take actions that have harsh and deadly consequences. Decades pass. Morales, a successful banker, and socialite, opts for a life of crime, works for, and ultimately becomes the head of the "Aztec" drug cartel. Aztec is the most successful and influential criminal enterprise in history. Rebecca, happily married, becomes a noted scientist.
At the height of Aztec's power, a new technology called "Digital Heroin," threatens to make all illegal drugs obsolete. If the technology becomes a reality, it will destroy the Cartel. Morales realizes that the only way to thwart its impact is to develop a super-drug, one so addictive that users will forego what the technology has to offer. Morales, who continues to stalk Rebecca from afar via social media, believes that an Alzheimer's drug she invented, "Clarity," with some tweaking, could be his super-drug.
Driven by the hope of rekindling their earlier romance, and having her work on the new super-drug, Morales abducts Rebecca. To divert investigators, he frames Daniel. Despite the absence of her corpse, Daniel is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Daniel languishes in jail while Rebecca, unaware of Daniel's plight, is held, prisoner. Over time, however, Rebecca and Morales become lovers again, and she agrees to help him convert Clarity into Morales' super-drug. Clarity causes deep and pervasive addiction; crime spikes. The prison population surges ten-fold. Prison conditions become horrific, but the government appears helpless.
During this crisis, doctors learn that an experimental cancer drug has the side-effect of aging patients significantly in the space of a few hours. Prison officials quickly realize that the side-effect could provide a solution to overcrowding and soon offer inmates immediate freedom in exchange for the inmates agreeing to be aged by the length of their terms. Alcatraz, again a prison, is the first place to offer the Option.
When Daniel learns that Morales has abducted Rebecca, he exercises the Option and sets off to rescue her. In his quest, however, he will not be as he once was, physically fit and tough (he was a former war hero), but as a man with all of the physical and psychological frailties of an octogenarian. As Daniel trudges breathlessly towards Rebecca's location, he begins to have doubts. Will he have the strength and fortitude to rescue her? Will she even recognize him? Will she want to return with a husband who is older looking than her father? If she returns with him, he will be vindicated, and doctors will restore his original age. If she refuses to return or his efforts are unsuccessful, he will soon die as an old man.
In the violent confrontation between Morales and Daniel, Rebecca, with a gun in hand, makes a life-or-death choice between her lover and her loyal and loving husband. Years later, as she reflects upon her life, Rebecca wonders if she made the right choice.