Author: Stephen Randel
Publisher: Knuckleball Press
Part of a Series: The Chupacabra Misadventures
Type of book: 2000s, letters, conspiracies, action, suspense, comedy, Mexico, cartel, mafia, Texas, Chupacabras
Year it was published: 2012
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 hippy, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it.
The characters that were fascinating and had the most dimension to them were Avery, Miss Pearl, Ziggy the hippie and General X-Ray. Other characters such as Kip, Kip's father and so forth weren't as interesting as the ones I have mentioned. I also felt pity that I didn't spend a lot of time with the Mexican Godfather, err I mean Padre. Despite the numerous characters I didn't feel confused as to which one is which because the author gave them distinct voices and words. Their personalities really shone in the novel, and its the strongest aspect of the novel.
Most unexpected moments do tie up.
Its written in third person narrative from everyone's point of view. The author does warn ahead when points of view shift and he stays consistent when it comes to characters; that is with Avery and people tied up with him one gets comedy or slight romance, and with El Barquero and the agents one gets action and gore. Possibly the only exception is the STRAC-BOM, although I would think they fall more into comedy instead of suspense. There are many things going on in the book such as Aunt Polly and her friends trying to get Miss Pearl to calm down, (loved the church scene!) El Barquero dealing murders, Kip getting to know his friend once more, Maximilian the French Bulldog trying to eat trash, the agents trying to keep a lookout for STRAC-BOM and so forth, (not even done yet in saying important threads.) I do admit I had some trouble understanding El Barquero scenes and what exactly he was trying to do. Other than that though, the author has done a good job with sticking the mood to the characters and one knows what one gets when it comes to them.
He also wrote a sequel titled The Trail of Chupacabra. Nothing else is known of him.
I have to admit that I read this book second instead of first. The first one I have read was titled Trail of the Chupacabra, which was unexpectedly hilarious, fresh and enjoyable. I also do describe this one as fresh, hilarious and enjoyable, but not as much as the second book. I would have liked more Miss Pearl scenes I think and would have liked if the loose ends between Kip and a girl were tied up. Other than that the characters stay in character and a character sheet might have helped out with figuring out who's who in General X-Ray's STRAC-BOM as well as a necessity for false names. I did feel that points of view from the agents or Kip weren't necessary to the story. This book is a mixture of suspense and comedy which makes for a delightful read. There are action scenes along with comedy scenes. I have never even heard of Chupacabra, although apparently its best described as a demon coyote, or a goat-sucker, something Avery is obsessed with getting, along with Mountain Dew. I felt that the best parts were the letters from Avery to practically everyone.
I would like to thank
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)