Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: Silver Lead and Dead by James Garmisch

Ex CIA agent Evan Hernandez knows the odds of seeing a kidnaping victim again and alive, no less, is about zero. When a family friend is kidnapped in Juarez and his brother asks him to be his alibi so he can travel to pay the ransom, Evan proposes to go in his place. After all, he has nothing to lose. Perhaps through his own sacrifice he will finally find redemption. In Mexico, Evan stumbles quite literally into a conflict between an ambitious cartel leader with a desire to reshape Mexico and a government sponsored mercenary outfit run by an ex-CIA agent from Evan’s past. Dark Cloud’s mission is to create a vacuum, destroy the Eastern Cartel and control the remaining crime syndicates. Evan finds himself immersed once again into a life he knows too well, the same life of deceit and danger that cost him his family decades earlier in Columbia. Silver Lead and Dead takes you on a journey into the terrifying world of the narco. Mexico is collapsing. The leader of Dark Cloud uses two ghosts from Evan’s past to recruit him, a mission involving a submarine sale, and the man who killed his family.

Before I begin the review I would like to make a note that some of the proceeds from the sale of Silver Lead and Dead go to the A21 Campaign, a nonprofit organization which helps fight against human trafficking. Kudos to the author for doing so.

The cover is pretty decent considering the subject material, although part of me wishes the silhouette was turned the other way instead of facing the wall. But I love the image of the bullets and the coins falling from her. Again, very appropriate given the subject matter of the book.

Silver Lead and Dead might not be for the more sensitive of readers as it does deal with some of the more adult themes of (torture, drugs, sexuality, etc) but a great deal of this is also a representation of what exactly is happening in Mexico's drug cartel, which based on articles and the news is certainly a force to be feared.

Having read the book, I really like the main characters of Evan, Tanya, and Roger, with Tanya perhaps being the most interesting. Part of that might be because Tanya is the most fleshed out of the trio. The other two's motivations are a little more unclear. When Evan is first recruited to lead the submarine mission, it seems that he isn't interested in joining until two million dollars is mentioned-but Evan strikes me as a character who is more interested in hiding from his demons more than anything else. Roger's motivations for joining are even more unclear, as he was a bodyguard for a kid who was kidnapped, but then the kid was Roger is joining the team to protect him? A lot goes on in this book, so much so that I wish a few pages had been used just to have some internal dialogue with these main characters, so we can understand the dilemma they are going through.

That being said, for those who love to read action, this book provides plenty of it to satisfy. There are also plenty of twists and turns to keep people invested in the story. The adult themes also ensures that the cartels will stop at nothing in the book to get what they want, which would have been crippled in a PG-13 setting. Overall I enjoyed reading this.

FINAL GRADE: 3.5 out of 5. More internal dialogue would have been preferred to flesh out some characters, particularily towards the end where there are so many side characters and factions to keep track of. That being said, the story does have an interesting ending and plenty of action to keep it going.

Silver Dead and Lead can be found here.

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