October 29, 2012

Book Tour: The Chupacabra by Stephen Randel

 He was known as El Barquero, "The Ferryman," because of the particular delivery service he provided for a Mexican drug cartel. In Mexico, drugs and money were easy enough to procure, but guns were more difficult. This was his specialty, supplying the firearms that made the violence possible. (Randel, 9)
-from The Chupacabra: A Borderline Crazy Tale of Coyotes, Cash &Cartels by Stephen Randel

Publisher's synopsis: He is called El Barquero. He makes his trade along the border, smuggling guns and killing without remorse. As he faces his one last mission, his perfect plan is unwittingly foiled by Avery, a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone. 

What unfolds is a laugh out loud dark comedy of madcap adventure stretching from Austin to the West Texas border featuring a lunatic band of civilian border militia, a group of bingo-crazed elderly ladies (one packing a pistol nearly as long as her arm),  a murderous and double-crossing cartel boss, a burned-out hippie, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it.

About the Author: Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs.

Review: Stephen Randel's novel The Chupacabra is an adventurous comedy that illustrates Randel's impressive talent for storytelling as he weaves together an extensive cast of diverse characters that all intersect at the end. At first I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of characters I needed to get a grasp on to get immersed in this book, but it really didn't take long for the story to pull me under. The story is constantly changing between its ensemble cast member's perspectives, so it's important that the reader stay on their toes; however each character is so memorable that it's impossible not to gain interest quickly. 

The backbone of the novel is El Barquero, a murderous weapons smuggler working for the Mexican cartels. Through El Barquero, Randel impressed me when I found myself rooting for the "bad guy" much more often than not. Although El Barquero is capable of killing people without much consideration, somehow the author still gives him enough humanity that I found myself wanting him to succeed in his final operation. 

On the other side of the coin is Avery, one of the most hilarious literary character I've read in a long time. Avery is a chubby, nerdy, loner with more than just a screw loose. He is obsessed with conspiracy theories and his interaction with others, including the insane letters he writes to corporations, are reason alone to read this book. Avery takes himself so seriously and is so self absorbed, that he has no real understanding of the precarious situations in which he puts himself. 

El Barquero and Avery are just two of the many colorful characters that drive this book and have made it one of my favorites of the year. The intensity of characters like El Barquero and the cartel boss are more easily digested by foils like Avery or General X Ray of STRAC-BOM, a 7 man civilian militia, who proves that there actually are characters even more clueless to dangerous situations than Avery. These characters help the scenes switch quickly between intense and comedic very efficiently. 

While The Chupacabra is an entertaining novel, it also has enough depth to make the reader consider things beyond its pages, an indicator of any great and memorable book. Through characters like El Barquero, Avery, and General X-Ray, the reader might consider what drives someone to go to great lengths for what they believe in and how much of what they believe in is a result of their ego. I also learned by the end of the novel not to underestimate or overestimate certain characters; they all have their own strengths and weaknesses that help or harm them in very realistic ways come the climax of the novel.

I would really love to see this book turned into a movie with a blockbuster Hollywood ensemble cast led by Zach Galifianakis as Avery. I mean, the Mexican drug cartels have already become somewhat glamorized in Breaking Bad. Come on, Hollywood, when are you going to start listening to my blog? ;)

Bottom Line: If you want a laugh-out-loud adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, read this book right away! 4½/5 stars.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review! The first person I thought of when I started reading about Avery was Zach Galifianakis, ha! Perfect :)


Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you leave a comment I will try my best to email you back directly and visit your blog, too! If I can't find a way to get back to you, check back for a reply to your comment. Thanks again and happy reading!!