In Richer’s action-packed debut, two men in Mexico try to flee the country after stumbling across suitcases filled with cash.
John and Michael, two friends and assistant university professors at work on their dissertations, travel deep into the Mexican jungle looking for a link between the San Andreas Fault and earthquakes. Desperate in their final year of funding, the men see an opportunity in a crashed plane stowing American money, with the assumption that they’re stealing from drug runners. Unsurprisingly, the criminals want their money back, too. The short novel throws readers into the plot just a few pages in and doesn’t let up. Fortunately, John and Michael prove to be dynamic, believable characters making rational decisions and missteps in their increasingly dangerous predicament. Despite the novel’s swift pace, several lucid passages vividly detail the smells and sounds of the jungle, its many inhabitants and the colorful streets of Mexico. A welcome dash of humor, particularly from John and his typically misguided plans, counterbalances the exhausting barrage of hurdles the men must overcome if they want to make it out of Mexico alive and wealthy. Richer also infuses the story with amusing touches of wit, like the men frequently dreaming of their wealth before it’s theirs, a prison well known for its exceptional menu and a Mexican lawyer named Nacho. The ending is slightly disappointing, primarily because it comes too soon. “No one said getting rich was going to be easy,” John says—they learn the hard way.
Fast and unrestrained, a perilous journey worth taking.