The Border: True Fiction by Marcus Dalrymple

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The Border: True Fiction by Marcus Dalrymple

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The third in the author's Mexican true fiction series once again mixes truth-based fictionalised events with factual vignettes. A powerful and eye-opening use of the thriller genre.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 308 Date: July 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1522770268

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Toby is a British journalist seconded from his London newspaper to help 'Rights Watch', a human rights organisation fighting for and highlighting the plight of Mexico and its people. Toby falls in love with the country, discovering a nation rich in culture and history but also a fearful place in which life means nothing. Toby's life is already in danger by his associations with Rights Watch and yet the exploitation and brutal murder he sees around him inspires him to do more. That's where Phantom Force comes in.

South American born British author Marcus Dalrymple completes his trio of Mexican true fiction crime books in an explosive way. Although Marcus loves the sights and sounds of Mexico, the dark side his books portray will definitely put people off holidaying there.

Once again we come across a proud people that suffers corruption among those charged with its protection. Drive by shootings and explosions aimed at humanitarian organisations can go apparently unpunished. Even for those without such organisational connections daily life can still be dangerous as people disappear and children are taken off the streets to satisfy perverted appetites across the globe.

This is the bloody, violent and seemingly hopeless world Bristol university graduate Toby finds himself in. Yet there's something about the country that inspires dogged, brave determination in the people he comes across.

For instance his girlfriend Monica is the daughter of a journalist who was murdered for refusing to bend to the corrupt zeitgeist. Yet Monica would rather fight than lay low. Indeed, through a case history method of looking at fiction, Marcus reveals the tricks that both sides use in an almost guerrilla war of profiteering, drug running and trafficking versus the fight for the sort of lifestyle we take for granted. The result is that our eyes are definitely opened as widely as they had been in the previous two books.

The biggest hope for the often heart-breaking cases Marcus uncovers seems to be in SAS-type organisations that bypass the uncertain morals of the law enforcement agencies. In this case the hero organisation is Phantom Force, a cheesy name for a particularly serious, hard hitting secret collective. Knowing Marcus' excellent flair for research, I'm guessing that the operations that emerge including an arduous selection process are based on fact gleaned from similar groups.

I had one initial misgiving over a Pulp Fiction type instalment as various contract killers descend on a rendezvous, some charged with killing each other as well as a shared foe. However the excitement produced by the episode soon overtakes any credibility gap.

Looking at all three novels in the series, there may be some readers who feel that there are similarities that repeatedly force the issues home. The rejoinder to this would be that the problems Marcus highlights are urgent so the repetition is enforced by a passion and conviction that, if enough people know, somehow, some day change will come. As impossible as that may seem to we who have witnessed horrific scenes from the relative safety of Marcus' writing, we can but hope.

(Our grateful thanks go to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: They can be read in any order but we definitely recommend that Marcus' first two books in the series – Killing Time and Flesh and Blood - be read. If you have already, and wonder about the John Pilger whose book sits on Toby's shelf, we recommend Freedom Next Time. If on the other hand, it's the thriller label that appeals, then we also recommend The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell. You might also appreciate Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement.

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