Book Review: 'Triple Crossing' By Sebastian Rotella:

Sep 5, 2011


ROBERT SIEGEL, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Sebastian Rotella has written about the complexities of the U.S.-Mexico border as a journalist. And with his new book, he returns to the subject through the lens of fiction. His novel, "Triple Crossing," is set on the border against the brutal backdrop of drug trafficking and government corruption.

Alan Cheuse has our review.

ALAN CHEUSE: The story opens at the San Ysidro crossing, where border patrol officer Valentine Pescatore, a Mexican-American and Chicago native, is working under the direction of a corrupt supervisor. In a briskly paced opening chapter, Pescatore crosses over into neighboring Tijuana in pursuit of a border-jumping small time criminal.

Almost immediately following that little peccadillo, Pescatore finds himself enlisted to gather evidence on that rotten supervisor and his mob associates on both sides of the border by a beautiful Puerto Rican-American federal agent named Isabel Puente.

As the body count rises, so does the temperature of the relationship between Valentine and Isabel. And we get a sharply drawn and fascinating gallery of many other characters on both sides of the law who play out life and death along the moral borderlines of murder, vice, integrity, honesty and justice.

Does Pescatore himself cross the line? By the time he becomes initiated in the murder squad of a reigning Mexican family of corrupt politicians and businessmen, a number of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agents have begun to ask that question.

Long before the time his story reaches a climax in the smugglers paradise of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, where the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet, the reader will be racing along through the pages of Rotella's novel at near breakneck speed.

SIEGEL: "Triple Crossing" is the new novel from journalist Sebastian Rotella. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.