Cover Image: Donkey Show

Donkey Show

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Member Reviews

This book blends a number of genres and manages to pull it off.  A bit of humour and a bit of romance are added to a strong thriller to make a book which is perfect for taking on holidays and reading in a single sitting!
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My thanks to both NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for an advanced copy of this crime novel set on the border in Texas.

Humor in novels dealing with criminals, crime and cartels can be difficult to pull off. Use something to broad and you take a reader out of the story. A non-funny joke can do the same. Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiassan were and are good at balancing the humourous quirks and foibles of their characters, while not sacrificing the story, or even the darkness that they discussing. Donald Westlake in the Dortmunder books went broad and swung for the fences making everything funny, occasionally laugh out loud, but still controlled the narrative. Stephen Baker does a little of both, and it works in this crime/ newspaper story about the border, and working hard for your dreams, even if your dreams are not that nice. 

Set in the time of NAFTA in El Paso and its sister city Juarez, a photographer returns to his newspaper beaten and bloody with his cameras broken and a warning for another reporter that a cartel leader has declared "Tell Tom Harley, he's dead meat." Which is news to Tom Harley as he has been kind of reporting on the local drug scene, more by listening to gossip than actual reporting. Soon he is promoted to drug reporter and his editors are talking about Pulitzers. Politicians are thinking of money and want the story to go away. Some local toughs, who might have instigated this whole deal,  want to get rid of the cartel head, and a young reporter with ties to all sides wants to make his journalistic career. 

A humourous story about the border and what happens, not just the war on drugs, but about life and how things go on. The story is good, Baker has a good grasp of his characters and their motivations, plus a good sense of humor. Not that this is all fun and games There is a certain level of acceptable violence, and corruption and the story does get a little dark. However the plot never gets lost, the characters make sense, and are interesting. A very good crime story. 

Recommended for people who like stories set on the border. Fans of the author Charles Bowden will enjoy this, as he wrote quite a bit about El Paso and Juarez. Elmore Leonard, Charles Hiassan and Donald Westlake readers, especially Parker fans will like this too. A very cleaver fun mystery. I am excited to read more by Stephen Baker.
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This was an interesting and sometimes brutal read. I liked the writing and founf it easy to follow with a good flow, well developed characters and an engaging storyline. I havent read many books about drug lords or cartels I think the only over one I have read is American Dirt but I think I will definitely read more. I will look for more from this author.
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