by Stephen Baker
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Pub Date 10 May 2022 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2022
A news photographer limps back across the Mexican border. He’s bloodied, his cameras smashed. And he carries a menacing message from a notorious drug lord to one of his colleagues. “Tell Tom Harley he’s dead meat.”
This death threat transforms a half-hearted reporter into an unlikely hero and kicks off a rollicking cross-border drama. Roaming from a love nest in El Paso’s shadeless barrio to a dusty carwash across the river in Juarez, Harley starts to untangle a story in which he’s a leading actor. But can he tell the truth once he finds it?
In Donkey Show, Stephen Baker weaves a tale of deception, dueling ambitions, and international intrigue—most of it taking place within a 10-minute bike ride of the newsroom. Nearly everyone he encounters, it seems, shapes their stories to fit their dreams. But they must survive the madness for those dreams to come true.
A Note From the Publisher
His first novel, The Boost (Tor Books, 2014) is a near-future tale that, like Donkey Show, takes place along the U.S.-Mexico border. Kirkus Reviews called the book “a true delight
of a techno-thriller that has deep, dark roots in the present.” Before moving to the New York area, Baker was Paris-based European technology correspondent for BusinessWeek, where
he headed up the magazine’s coverage of wireless technology and the mobile Internet.
He is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and earned his B.A. at the University of Wisconsin. He lives with his wife in Montclair, NJ. They have three sons.
"An authentic cross-border drama ensconced in the world of journalism and crime"
-Independent Book Review
"Donkey Show delivers on all fronts for crime fans seeking something new and original"
"Readers will enjoy this gripping story that shows how much influence newspaper articles, politics, and corruption can have on people and their actions. The chapters are short, fast-paced, and addictive."
"Donkey Show pairs a love story with a tale of international intrigue. It will attract suspense readers who like their action firmly cemented in interpersonal relationships that respond to adversity and opportunity beyond singular goals."
D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
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Average rating from 2 members
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 a.so look for more from this author.
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.