Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: The Chupacabra: A Borderline Crazy Tale of Coyotes, Cash & Cartels by Stephen Randel

Stephen Randel's debut novel is a story about El Barquero. A gunrunner and hit man for a Mexican drug cartel, "The Ferryman" has decided to go rogue and take the cartel's shipments for himself. He plans to pull off just one more heist, but during this job things go awry.

No, that's not what this book is about. This is a story about Kip, a New York investment banker returning to his hometown of Austin, Texas to visit his family. Avery is his stepbrother, a computer nerd obsessed with conspiracy theories. His father is Bennett, a grouchy retired doctor. His Aunt Polly is a crazy old lady whose bingo friends are even crazier. Wacky hijinks ensue.

No, that's not it either. This book is a satire of the Mexico-America border situation. A bumbling civilian militia is doing its best, in their own stupid way, to stop illegal immigrants and drug cartels from coming across the border. Much to the chagrin of a pair of border patrol agents.

No, it's not about that either. Well, I don't know what the hell this book is about. But I had fun reading it.

As you can tell there is a lot going on in this book. It's difficult to summarize the overall plot without spoilers. I will say however, that Stephen Randel ties together the various plot threads in a mostly satisfying way. I say mostly, because it's clear that Randel intends this to be the first part of a series. I'm very interested in seeing where he takes the story from here.

As the title suggests, wackiness is the order of the day. Most of the book is focused on introducing the characters and displaying the craziness of their everyday lives. Before pulling them into even crazier situations.

This book is by no means perfect. As a comedy, there are some jokes that simply fall flat. As a crime story, there are few somewhat obvious contrivances. Though the general cartoony feeling of the book keeps these contrivances from feeling too out of place.

In spite of these flaws, I definitely recommend this if you're looking for something different and fun. Personally, I'm looking forward to part two. 

Buy The Chupacabra by Stephen Randel here.