I have been eagerly and impatiently awaiting the release of BORDER WAR since I first became aware of its pending publication. The pairing of Lou Dobbs and James O. Born as co-authors is a dream collaboration.
Dobbs is best known as a commentator for Fox Business Network but has also authored a number of nonfiction books dealing with business and politics. His television and literary efforts are worth exploring for their clear-eyed commentary and well-reasoned conclusions concerning how the world does and does not work. Exposure to Dobbs is similar to an ongoing business and economic seminar that you should have had in college but never did.
"BORDER WAR is an excellent read, a complex story full of great characters and told with a pitch-perfect voice and pace."
Born is a well-known and highly respected law enforcement officer with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who has been responsible for bringing a number of high-profile criminal cases to a successful conclusion (for the good guys, that is). These experiences have been infused through a number of critically acclaimed and commercially successful novels that are required reading for crime fiction aficionados. Thus, my expectations for this book were very high; I’m pleased to report that they were met and even exceeded.
BORDER WAR plays out between the very different sister cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Juarez is considered by many to be one of the world’s most dangerous cities, while El Paso has one of the lowest homicide rates in the United States. The chaotic lawlessness in Juarez threatens to spill across the border into El Paso, where an FBI agent named Tom Eriksen has been transferred after his apparent involvement in a questionable shooting. The office, known as the “Island of Misfit Cops,” is supposed to be a resting place for Eriksen while things are sorted out and cooled off.
Eriksen, notwithstanding the attitude of his FBI supervisor, is a good, solid agent, still new enough at the job to be idealistic but with sufficent experience to keep himself alive. His situation attracts support from a couple of individuals from outside the Bureau. One is a national television commentator whose reasoned viewpoints on immigration and its solutions have garnered praise and brickbats for him on both sides of the border. The other is a newly minted Texas senator of Hispanic descent whose opinions on immigration and terrorism have made her extremely unpopular with a number of people, particularly the powerful kingpin of a Mexican drug cartel.
As things play out for Eriksen both inside and outside of his office, two disparate and opposing forces --- the aforementioned drug lord and a computer company --- pursue an IT whiz and a Mexican doctor for their own reasons. That pursuit dovetails back on Eriksen, who finds himself caught in a number of crossfires, one of which leads back to his own office. The title “the Island of Misfit Cops” soon becomes ironic in more ways than one, as Eriksen works to discover the identity of an informant in his office, who is much closer to him than he imagines.
BORDER WAR is an excellent read, a complex story full of great characters and told with a pitch-perfect voice and pace. While the story is complete in itself, Dobbs and Born leave the door open for a sequel (or more) at its conclusion, which, in this case, is the best possible ending of all. More? To the gods of publishing, we say “YES!”
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 6, 2014