A multimillion-dollar drug-smuggling operation led by a high school Spanish teacher thrived in Southern California throughout the 1970s until it was brought down by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Based on these facts, Nichols’ account has all the makings of a gripping, dramatic story but disappoints in its weak treatment. The story focuses on teenager Eddie Otero and Lance Weber, an ex-con in his 20s, and spans both several years and the globe. Although the tale is presented as a nonfiction account and, with One Cut, by Eve Porinchak, launches the Simon True nonfiction series, the absence of source notes makes it impossible for readers to discern which dialogue and situations are recorded fact. Extended exchanges of (frequently banal) conversation test credulity, and novelistic flourishes abound: “Eddie stacked the bills, smelled them, and stuffed them into his pocket; a girl at the bar used her middle finger to dab gloss on her lower lip, watching him. He grinned at her, knowing in one surge of eye contact that his life had just changed forever.” Even as strictly pleasure reading, the story is surprisingly uncompelling. The young protagonists lack depth and development. Aside from fleeting moments of suspense during their drug smuggling activities, the narrative's pace is static. Nichols offers little insight into the characters’ motivations and fails to reveal any overarching conflicts or themes.
A true but lackluster tale of teenage drug smugglers. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 14-18)