White-knuckle tension and crisp, clean prose distinguish this outstanding standalone from Birtcher (Angels Fall and two other Mike Travis mysteries). In 1976, Colombian and Mexican criminals are turning cocaine smuggling into a major industry, while … see full wiki
Washed out from their homes by sudden storms, the rain dogs on the high ground of Mexico don’t know their way home. They prowl and turn their violence where it will. Meanwhile the various protagonists of Baron R. Birtcher’s Rain Dogs have met their own storms in the beginning of America’s drug wars. From Vietnam vet growing pot in Northern California, to crooked cop on the border, to Mexican drug lord giving way to addiction as he samples the Columbian product, all are losing what kept them safe, and violence looms.
Rain Dogs is a thriller with genuine shocks and chills. It’s a violent novel, but convincingly, not gratuitously so, with flawed characters whose missteps and mistakes hide a wealth of conflicting emotions. The author combines first and third person narratives to great effect, creating a convincing narrator whose future remains unpredictable right up to the final pages, and a cast of powerful side-characters with all their well-formed, well-imagined motivations for good or ill. A combination of gritty realism and lyrically descriptive prose draws the reader in, bringing dry plains and misty forests to vivid life, with all the terrors lurking there. The danger’s plausible and palpable. But an anchor of humanity remains, a hint of mystery, and a hope that at least some rain dogs might find shelter before the whole world falls apart.
I don’t know what America, Mexico or Columbia were like in the 70s, but Baron R. Birtcher creates a very believable recent past and peoples it with characters of honor, dishonor, determination and grit, in a novel that keeps the reader enthralled and uncertain from beginning to end.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the publisher with a request for my honest review.