A rancher looks into his late father’s past and may learn more than he’d intended in Ochs’ Western drama (The Boathouse, 2008).
Oliver Walsh, despite being the only son and the oldest of three children, receives the smallest chunk of his father’s vast inheritance. But what he finds most jarring is the inclusion of a weathered rifle that his father had deemed valuable and an apparently abandoned ranch of which Oliver was not even aware. A little research finds a connection between the two—both were formerly owned by Malcolm Duffey Jr. Years before, Malcolm had moved west to Montana, where he made money hunting buffalo before going into business with a man that he didn’t completely trust—C. Charles Walsh. Ochs takes a unique approach to telling his story. Though scenes with Malcolm are flashbacks and form the bulk of the novel, they’re not the narrative interpretation of what Oliver has learned through researching land records and newspaper articles. What he ultimately exposes is a significant but condensed version. The dual timelines maintain a high level of anticipation. The prior knowledge of Malcolm’s death (much earlier than Charles’) and the crumbling of the two men’s personal and business relations fuels curiosity about the story leading up to those events. There’s little humor, but Malcolm’s education of the West by way of dime-store novels is a highlight, especially with titles such as Jesse James and the Soiled Dames and Buffalo Bill Plays the Death Flute. The hardships of the Old West are shown with an unblinking eye, which may cause animal lovers to flinch—buffalo, horses and cattle fall prey to hunting, severe weather and harsh conditions.
A Western on the business side of things, deftly supported by engrossing melodrama and inimitable characters.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.