Scribner, Aug 2004, 25.00, 306 pp.
His dilapidated property, inherited from his homicidal father is located near the TIJUANA STRAITS, but loner Sam Fahey never goes surfing at the renowned locale as he had when he was a teen. Instead the former jailbird earns a pittance as a worm farmer who cannot leave his land for the anxiety attacks cripple him when he tries.
Sam, tracking wild dogs, finds a battered Mexican woman. Though he prefers to avoid humans, Sam brings the assaulted female to his trailer. He learns that his “guest”, twenty-three years old Magdalena Rivera, is an environmental activist working for a Tijuana attorney developing cases against major polluters. However, it is not her paying job that has placed Magdalena in danger, but her volunteer work at a clinic where she helped a severely abused woman with an abortion. This led to her drug-crazed husband Armando Santoya wanting to kill her. Though his offspring was a victim of the pollutants that foul the border; he blames Magdalena for the loss; only Sam stands in the way.
Known for his surf Noir tales, Kem Nunn widens the horizon with this taut border thriller. Readers learn through flashbacks what turned Sam from a highly regarded surfer into a panic attack hermit; the audience finds out why Magdalena is a rabid clean air and water activist (the hypocrisy that America worries about free trade agreements leading to pollution is ironic); finally what motivates Armando to obsess over killing Magdalena. Though there is unnecessary violence (that seems to symbolize the writer's beliefs of the lawlessness of the California-Mexico border), the author shows he is second to none when it comes to readers riding a suspense laden crest.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner