Aided ably by freelance journalist Pulitzer (co-author: Mob Daughter, 2012, etc.), an officer with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service recounts his undercover exploits along the border.
Every time he accepted an assignment, Acosta, who was raised in a poor but striving family on the U.S. side of the border, understood he might never see his wife and children again. However, fueled by a sense of adventure and an obsession to arrest greedy, heartless criminals, he accepted countless assignments he probably could have turned down based on seniority and already established courage. Like previous books by undercover law-enforcement officers, this one is nearly impossible to verify in every detail. More than other books of the genre, however, it feels authentic, partly because Acosta relies less heavily on made-up names, partly because his welcome modesty frequently trumps macho storytelling. In the opening chapter, Acosta provides a gripping, especially detailed account of his undercover experience as a pollo, or chicken, a derogatory yet descriptive term of poverty-stricken Mexican citizens who pay exploitative smugglers to help with illegal border crossings. To gather intelligence about a notorious smuggling family, the Medinas, Acosta realized he would need to place his life in danger. While trapped with real-life pollos in the fetid, locked cargo hold of a U-Haul, Acosta began to wonder if they would emerge alive on the other side of the border. The story of how he managed to survive and eventually put members of the Medina enterprise in prison gives the book a potent opening momentum that continues throughout.
A gut-wrenching law-enforcement yarn, simultaneously frightening and uplifting.