Send More Idiots
© 2014 Tony Perez-Giese
Jon Lennox’ kid brother just disappeared in Mexico. He didn’t run off with a woman, though, he disappeared in a place where the streets are paved with gunshells and which the neighbors call “Murder City”, Juarez. Everyone else has written Chris off as another cartel casualty, even though he was a real estate broker unconnected to the drug trade, but Jon can’t let it rest. Setting up shop in a seedy hotel in El Paso, he tries to make connections in the area that will help him discover what became of his brother. His allies will include a telephone line-woman whose favorite word is “Cállate!”, a disgraced cop, and an Iraq war vet on disability who still lingers in the Fort Bliss area to stay close to his brothers-in-arms. In pursuit of a man’s rescue, or just a strike back against the leading cartel, the three stumble into unspoken agreements between the American DEA and the lead gunman in Juarez, resulting in several shootouts and a climax at a Star Trek convention.
Send More Idiots is the opposite of bland, beginning in action and never resting. The moments between periods of active danger are filled with heated debate and discussion, as Jon tries to work out his next move and everyone tells him he’s a lunatic who is going to get himself killed. His allies are no less dangerous: the cop has his own private revenge motive, the vet’s improvised weaponry has a tendency to electrocute the user, and the linewoman’s cousin is sleeping with the mob. The characters all have a vibrancy to them — they’re audacious, desperate, and completely entertaining. No less lively is the background of El Paso-Juarez, both gritty in their ways. The narrative frame is also unusual, the story is being delivered by…the missing person. He’s not very active, but every so often he refers to ‘my brother’ Jon, and we’re reminded, yep – -the object of Jon’s search is the one telling the story, so something is up. The characters suspect that something’s up with Jon, too: instead of leaving it to the private investigators and police authorities, he’s actively going into narco clubs looking for el jefe. It’s as if he wants to get into trouble, and many of those who know him suspect that this episode for him is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for adventure, an opportunity to stop being the responsible-but miserable lawyer, an obedient husband-and-son, and do something outstanding and courageous.
Send More Idiots is one of the faster-paced novels I’ve read this year, full of comic action. Definitely one to remember..