THE CRIMSON WIND by Max Hennessy


Email this review


The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1914--in a breezy, unsatisfying mixture of potted (yet convoluted) history and fictional, comic-bookish adventure/romance. Hennessy's under-developed hero is British-Mexican journalist Harley Marquis, who's on assignment in northern Mexico when Pancho Villa and other rebels rise up against the Diaz regime, joining in support of would-be president Madero. Harley, sticking close to the action, is threatened with execution by both sides in the ensuing combat; Villa himself--a sincere, near-saintly figure here--spares him, however. (""We need people to tell the world of our struggle. . ."") So Harley gets a close-up view of Villa's triumphs over the Federal troops--while meeting beautiful Angelica Ojarra, a naive, passionate American supporter of the Revolution. By the time Madero is installed, then, Harley has become half-infatuated with Villa, Angelica, Mexico itself. Almost immediately, however, the Madero regime is under attack from both enemies and old allies: guerrilla leaders Zapata and Orozco defect, staging attacks on the new government forces (including a nasty train-bombing witnessed by Harley); at the other extreme there are disloyal generals galore, some of them conspiring with the old Diaz forces; the influential US Ambassador becomes increasingly anti-Madero; only Villa remains utterly loyal to the President--but is imprisioned nonetheless. (Harley helps in the scheme to free the noble bandit.) So the Madero regime is toppled after little more than a year--while Harley tries to restrain idealistic Angelica from going too far in her pro-Madero pamphleteering. (The two finally become lovers amid shellfire and B-movie dialogue: ""For God's sake, I want you to, and if they blow us up I could go to my Maker without you ever knowing."") And, at the corny fadeout, radicalized Harley and indefatigable Angelica set off to join Villa in his second attempt at liberating Mexico. Too busily historical to work as adventure (Harley's usually just a bystander), too simpleminded to take even half-seriously: a cheesy hybrid, especially in comparison to other Villa novels--and an unpromising start for yet another Hennessy trilogy.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1985
Publisher: Atheneum