Fans of Don Winslow’s fiction and Mark Bowden’s nonfiction alike will be eager to read Feuer’s blood-spattered tale.

EL JEFE

THE STALKING OF CHAPO GUZMÁN

Fast-paced tale of the decadeslong quest to capture a notorious drug kingpin.

Joaquín Guzmán, aka El Chapo, was just one of many crime lords in Mexico to fall under the scrutiny of American authorities back in the 1980s. By 2006, he was the head of a cartel, at war with other drug clans and the Mexican government. At this point, writes Feuer, who covers courts and criminal justice for the New York Times, Guzmán had earned “full folkloric status,” having escaped from one of the country’s most secure prisons after bribing his jailers. He was on the loose for a decade after, hiding out in the Sierra Madre, where he enjoyed some of the best technology on the market, including a private cellphone network, phones so well encrypted that the FBI’s best technicians could not crack them, and, later, wireless repeaters that enabled his commandos to communicate in the forested country around Guadalajara. Technology is at the beginning and the end of Feuer’s well-documented, only occasionally clichéd account, which includes an up-close portrait of the hacker who built Guzmán’s systems. Through networks and tools of their own, including simulators that “send out signals that mimic those given off by cell towers and essentially suck up locational data from cell phones being targeted,” American drug enforcement agents and Mexican officials alike were eventually able to track him down. Feuer builds a taut narrative of the cat-and-mouse game that found Guzmán at one safe house here, another there, somehow always able to escape even the vaunted Mexican marines. The author sometimes can’t resist the arid, hard-boiled conventions of true crime—“If he was going to hide up there living on tortillas, they were going to make damn sure that he didn’t get beans”—but he knows how to spin a tale.

Fans of Don Winslow’s fiction and Mark Bowden’s nonfiction alike will be eager to read Feuer’s blood-spattered tale.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25450-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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