The politicians in Mexico seriously need to have a word with whoever is in charge with promoting their country. This vast and gorgeous nation is increasingly being known more for its hideous crimes. With drug cartels running rife and corrupt police it seems that a fresh murder happens every few minutes, each one more gruesome than the next. Who in their right mind would want to visit the darker places that these cartels exist in? Journalist do, but they too are in danger. Just have a look to see how many have been murdered in recent years.
Andrew and Carlos are such journalists and when on a typical story they stumble across the body of a young man who has been butchered and simply left. The body has been displayed as a sign of power from the local cartel, but rather than drive by the duo decide to stop and investigate. This mistake will end with one dead and the other in fear of their life. When you take on the cartels in Mexico you are not only up against the criminals, but also the corrupt police and politics.
Call Him Mine by Tim MacGabhann is part thriller, part love story, part travelogue, but never really settles on any of them. MacGabhann explains in the book that he was a journalist who worked in Mexico. The book is part fiction and part truth. My guess is that many of the horrific incidents that Andrew talks about are based in reality. The character of Andrew has the habit of going off on a tangent and explaining how people were beheaded or drowned in oil. The violence in Call is grim, but depressingly true, MacGabhann wants you to know this.
Using fiction to explore the terror of crime in Mexico is a good idea. For a great example try Don Winslow’s Power of the Dog series. Winslow is also able to conjure up moments of horror taken from the real headlines in Mexico. The difference between the two authors is that Winslow is also able to create a cracking narrative.
MacGabhann has made the decision to create an almost dreamy book. This is to represent the grief that Andrew has for his work colleague Carlos, who we soon discover was also his partner. Andrew flits back to past memories of Carlos and how their love grew. Grief also expresses itself in coldness. The character of Andrew appears to be torn up inside, but his actions are cold. He carries on almost as normal. As if Carlo’s death was inevitable. It is here that is constant reciting of gruesome murders feels a little off, he has himself now become involved in one.
I can imagine that this depiction of grief actually holds true for some, but it just does not work in a crime thriller. Andrew walks around in a daze somehow discovery clues as to who is to blame. We are given thrilling moments with a character who should be hiding under a duvet. The Andrew of the book and the thrills of the story just don’t seem to jell together.
Written on 7th July 2019 by Sam Tyler.
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