The Pursuit of the Drug Smuggler Who Couldn't Be Caught, by the Agent Who Wouldn't Quit
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 A cop's hunt for a drug dealer resembles a ``marathon chess game'' in this surprising look at one battle in the war on substance abuse. Howard Marks was an ex-hippie, Oxford grad, and former British Intelligence agent who turned into an elusive pot-peddler whom police never expected to catch--until DEA agent Craig Lovato made finding him his life's obsession. What ensued was a cat-and-mouse caper of surveillance and counter-surveillance that digressed into ``a senseless Hollywood comedy.'' Eddy and Walden (co-authors, The Cocaine Wars, 1988) galvanize a potentially uninspiring tale of police forensics with an ironic twist: Marks emerges as a drug- trafficker you love to hate, while Lovato comes off as petty, simplistic, and cruel. They are played off as perfect alter egos, with Marks the more philosophical and, in some respects, more ethical character who sells only pot because he believes it harmless. The authors flout sensationalism and self-righteous anti- drug rhetoric by not taking sides and by leaving the dichotomy between good and evil, in this case, uncomfortably ambiguous. Their account often suggests a drug-seller's travelogue of exciting places and ingenious dodges as they trace Marks's international sales scheme. There are even sad and sensitive first-person passages by Marks and his cronies recounting how they got involved in their racket. In fact, the life of the drug world's ``Marco Polo'' seems downright mundane when travel takes a back seat to daily survival. In this context, the exaggerated press headlines deeming Marks an ``evil genius'' and ``Lord Supergrass'' seem all the more ludicrous. Fast and smooth, and daring to show that even drug-dealing has a human face.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1991
ISBN: 0-316-21056-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991


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