Serpent’s Tail, May 5 2015, $14.95
Since his wife Vilma died from cancer, widower Jack Searle raises his two stepdaughters (thirteen years old Lidia and her older teenage sister Marina) in Laredo, Texas. The handyman insures his children never forget their late mom’s Mexican heritage by consistently taking them to their maternal relatives across the border in Nuevo Laredo.
The older sibling Marina asks her stepdad if she can attend a concert in Nuevo Laredo with her cousin. His instincts tell him to say no as the cartels own Nuevo Laredo, but Jack reluctantly allows Marina to go. Neither cousin comes home. Filled with dread, Searle allows the city police to search for his missing child. When he realizes they do not care nor want to confront the cartels, frantic Searle loses patience. He dives head first into the city slime in search of his missing Marina.
The latest Sam Hawken Texas-Mexico border crime thriller (see The Dead Women of Juarez and Tequila Sunset) is an action-packed drama that establishes an intriguing background with minor nuances like dinner and phone minutes; and local policing in a “war zone” (similar to the Bridge). Although the prime characters are underdeveloped, the simmering storyline hooks the audience from the moment the two cousins go missing and never slows down particularly when Jack plunges into the cesspool.