An often engrossing glimpse into an arduous criminal investigation, despite some missteps.



In this novel based on true events, a Drug Enforcement Agency operative and two California private investigators face numerous hurdles as they investigate a cartel that’s smuggling narcotics into the United States.

When his wife lands a job in Yuma, Arizona, in 1990, DEA Agent Larry Ray Hardin requests a transfer there from San Diego. He soon zeroes in on the case of the Meraz brothers in Mexico; authorities have tied them to heroin, cocaine, and marijuana trafficking, money laundering, and arms smuggling. They’re also allegedly behind the shooting of two DEA agents in 1975 and another agent’s torture and murder 10 years after that, so Larry makes it his personal mission to stop their organization. Although he suspects corruption and leaks among his colleagues, he ultimately finds common ground with two Los Angeles PIs. Jeff Pearce and Randy Torgerson are trying to link the Merazes’ drugs to trucks transporting shrimp, as well as a California seafood company. Unfortunately, many officials, agents, and prosecutors are either crooked or too scared to help, which makes their goal a seemingly impossible task. DeMille (co-author: It Started With a Pencil, 2016) and debut co-authors Hardin, Pearce, and Torgerson’s story is based in fact, but it changes several names and invents many events and conversations. However, it deftly presents the frustrations that law enforcement officials and PIs endure. None of the assistant U.S. attorneys that Larry knows, for example, seem intent on prosecuting the dangerous Merazes. The novel splits the narrative into first-person accounts from Larry’s, Jeff’s, and Randy’s points of view, as well as intermittent third-person narration. This structure allows for brief but intriguing looks into each man’s backstory, as well as startling incidents, such as a sexual-assault allegation. The straightforward prose style keeps the particulars of the ongoing investigations clear. Still, it’s confusing when first-person narration occasionally slips into third, and vice versa, without explanation. There are also muddled dates; Larry and the PIs meet to compare cases in 1991, which contradicts earlier details, such as Randy joining the Los Angeles business in 1992 and the PIs’ investigation starting in 1993.

An often engrossing glimpse into an arduous criminal investigation, despite some missteps.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73363-500-4

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Dianne's Consultant Services

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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