Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, $27.00, 322 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-50553-6
With all the rama-lamadingdonging that’s been going on over, under, through, around and about the southern border of our nation this MBR couldn’t be more timely.
Rip Crew, by Sebastian Rotella, begins in Guatemala where protagonist Valentine Pescatore, an undercover agent for a private security firm, is looking for a human smuggler named Chiclet. Chiclet, along with a group of tattooed, machete-wielding MS13-bangers, controls access to a rusty, ancient steam train called La Bestia: The Beast. Chiclet and his gang are there for the sole purpose of fleecing the illegal refugees and migrants headed north through Mexico, hoping to cling to the tops, sides and platforms of the wheezing old steamer long enough to cross into El Norte . . . the promised land . . . The United States of America. But in the first of many stunning plot twists, that’s where Chiclet just came from. He’s a witness to the massacre of several women in San Diego, California, where he and a pair of young girls are the only survivors in a case that’s drawn the entire worlds attention. It’s caught the eye of a high-ranking member of Homeland Security, and it’s she who’s hired Pescatores firm to investigate, using back channels to avoid publicity.
At the same time, Leo Méndez, a Mexican journalist forced into exile by death threats from the drug cartels and the crooked cops and politicians in league with them, is hot on a story of corporate corruption and malfeasance that stretches across several countries and multiple governments.
The two cases coverage, and the volatile American investigator teams up with the wary Mexican journalist to track down a massacre survivor and witness with an explosive secret that conceals a conspiracy reaching around the world. The hunt leads from the barrio to the boardroom, where the intrepid pair find the lines between mobsters and moguls has blurred, as the unlikely partners fight forces that can easily crush them. Rip Crew is one of the most intense thrillers of the year. It’s timely, it’s fast-paced, it’s propulsive . . . and it’s going to keep you reading late late late into the night!