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Ratings and Reviews (2 4 star ratings
2 reviews

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4.3 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

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    Half Mystery, Half Comedy

    First of all, I think this book should've been categorized as Comedy rather than Mystery. I realize it's hard to fit every novel into a specific genre, and I hope this great book doesn't suffer for it. This is not to say that readers looking for an interesting mystery won't be happy with this. After all, the book revolves around the disappearance of an American businessman in Juarez, Mexico, and I thought there were plenty of intriguing incidents to keep the hook for those trying to figure out whodunnit as the businessman's brother (Jon) searches for answers. One of the hooks is a nifty little change in POV early on in the novel, which certainly made me curious as to how the plot was taking shape and who was in control. And the denouement at the end not only made sense, but was also really funny. This brings me back to my issue with this book being defined as a mystery. Even though the book starts off with a pretty gruesome description of the kidnapping, there is still a hint of humor in there right from the opening line, which I won't spoil here. From that point forward Jon basically plays the straight man to a trio of great characters who he encounters during his search. The funniest of these three is Jon's neighbor at the hole-in-the-wall motel he uses as his HQ. "6-to-10" Jimmy is a disabled Iraq war veteran who copes with his PTSD by drinking copious amounts of booze. Jimmy is, however, a certifiable genius whose tinkering with electronics never fails to amuse (the nickname "6-to-10" comes form the fact that his buddies have determined that his genius is only active when he's consumed between 6 and 10 drinks--get him before or after and he's useless). Jimmy is a pure delight on the page, and I found myself cracking a smile whenever he made a typically hungover and disheveled appearance in the book. I saw some reviews that compare this book to the movie "Fargo", which I could not agree with more. Although the central theme revolves around a tragedy, I still could not help but laugh at the characters as they orbit this dark subject matter. High recommended.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    "No Country for Old Men" but FUNNY

    This book opens with the best line I've read in a long time, and it takes off from there. Without giving too much away (it is a mystery after all), the story revolves around the kidnapping of an American real estate broker in Juarez, Mexico. Because of how run-of-the-mill kidnappings are in Mexico, the authorities and the kidnapped man's family give up the search after just a week or so. That's when the kidnapped man's brother (Jon, a corporate lawyer from Denver) arrives on the scene in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez. It becomes obvious fairly quickly that Jon is using his brother's disappearance as an excuse to ditch out on his life back home, and instead of really investigating the kidnapping, he spends his first few days just going through the motions of assembling a missing person's case. During the course of Jon's "investigation", he runs into a trio of fantastic El Paso characters who basically force him to start taking the abduction seriously. That, along with pressure from home to wrap up the case, forces Jon right in the middle of the ongoing Juarez "narcotraficante" wars. From that point, the book accelerates into one of the more bizarre (and humorous) climaxes that I've read in a long time. Great characters, spot-on dialogue, and also some really interesting background on the ongoing narco wars along the US/Mexico border.

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