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Read the Reviews!

“A fast-paced action story”

When the son of drug cartel boss is killed in Mexico in a shootout with a local businessman, his wife and children flee to the U.S. and the family is divided and goes into hiding. The ruthless cartel tracks the two boys and one day enters their elementary school intent on killing them, but school plant manager Frank Martin and teacher Brenda trap and inadvertently kills the would-be killers instead, creating a chain of events that leads the boys to flee once again; this time with U.S. citizens involved in something far beyond their experience.

As A Line in the Sand is drawn and evolves, readers are treated to a fast-paced action story that moves from Mexico into the classroom and on a flight to freedom that includes a cover-up, confrontations with determined drug lords armed with powerful tracking abilities, flights from Mexico to California to Arizona, and repeat encounters with gangsters.

With the introduction of naive college student, Mallory, and her blossoming romance with the enigmatic Teddie, a series of twists take a seemingly straightforward plot about cartels and flight and adds several moral and ethical conundrums to create a powerful, unexpectedly multifaceted read.

The first-person passages capture the ongoing challenges to problem-solving and survival which often place characters at odds with their belief systems (“I had to do something now or they were going to die. But if I did something, I would die first, unless God wrapped me in His righteousness and made me invisible.”), while ethical sacrifices must be made for the greater good (“We went in there specifically to lie to the boys and try to get them to lie. It’s an awful thing to do, but we were in desperate circumstances and facing unknown dangers.”).

Another note is that points of view change between Mallory, Brenda, Frank, and Teddie, adding further insights on the unique struggles within individuals as well as their shared experiences, as in the case where Mallory asks Frank to consider his choices: “So what’s your inner conflict?” she said. “That’s what you need to figure out.”

Use of the first person also allows for satisfying self-reflections that add extra dimensions of psychological depth and understanding as characters react to the events that challenge their lives and ultimately change them: “The question is not was I ignorant or innocent? I was certainly both. I am a little less of each now, already.”

It’s hard to see how so many seemingly-impossible situations will lead to satisfying resolution, but this is another strength to A Line in the Sand ‘s complex story: the disparate threads wind together in a conclusion that gathers all elements into a satisfying windup with a few surprises and a punch line designed to keep thriller readers thinking beyond the story’s final passages.

A Line in the Sand ‘s ability to draw Maginot lines from various perspectives and then cross them creates a memorable, highly recommended story of killers, cartels, and innocents changed by a series of deadly encounters.

Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review (Sept. 2018)



A Line in the Sand by Fred Andersen is a suspenseful, gripping narrative with strong characters. A cartel is about to take revenge on a family, and two refugee kids find themselves under the protection of a school teacher and a janitor of a Phoenix elementary school. They are “immigrant kids in a dicey situation,” brought to the US by their mother and left with relatives. Will the untrained teacher and janitor stand a chance against contract killers and a ruthless cartel? It’s a ride any reader will want to take, a journey with surprising outcomes. 

While the plot isn’t complex, the narrative voice is strong and confident and Fred Andersen focuses on conflict and character. We encounter a cast of strong characters and from the moment readers encounter Franck at the beginning of the narrative, facing unusual events at the Grand Avenue School, they will become intrigued by the faint moan he hears and will want to find out what it is all about. The tension is introduced immediately and it grows steadily as the story advances. The suspense is introduced with different points of view, with the first person voice alternating between characters — Frank, Brenda, Teddie, Mallory, and Miranda. 

I enjoyed the prose, done in a style that is simple and with a phraseology that is unique. The short phrases and words used as statements add to the already strong drama. The emotional side of character development is handled well with skillfully crafted dialogues and descriptions that are vivid. Fred Andersen’s writing is strong, focused and balanced; the characters are likeable and the plot is driven by conflict. It is a gripping, suspenseful read!

Readers’ Favorite Reviews (Divine Zape, (9/16/18)


3.5 Stars

I really enjoy stories where the concept of doing something wrong for the right reason is presented. As a reader, this thought interests me and I love diving into that idea. A Line in the Sand by Fred Andersen is one of those books that fulfill and enables you to use that thought process. Two children end up with unlikely protectors when the drug Cartel comes to carry out a vendetta. A teacher and janitor are the two characters thrown into securing the safety of two boys and dealing with criminals. Without giving away too much, there are some, what appeared to be unrelated chapters. They are not – keep reading, it will be worth it.

Jennie Reads (posted on Goodreads, 10/5/18


“Tugs at your gut”

The new novel “A Line in the Sand”, by author Fred Andersen, is an ambitious and successful attempt to relate the reality of how things happen along the US southern border. It is a story in which the characters are never sure who to believe, who to trust. In this it instills great suspense and that knot in your stomach that always comes when you’re sure something terrible is about to happen.
This very well-written story tugs at your gut as you read it. When are the characters, or any of us, truly safe where we are? When is simply doing right not doing enough? When should we be looking over our shoulders and questioning what people tell us?
Mexican drug cartels are very powerful, as depicted in this nicely told tale of murder and suspense. The timely subject of border security was handled well, and the action was believable.
I did notice a few incomplete sentences, which made the book seem to need a bit more editing. As an English teacher this bothered me just a bit but did not actually detract from the story. Indeed, those things may have been done intentionally, to give the narration a more ‘immediate’ feel.
I was impressed both with the subplots and the believable dialog. The book flows well. I am satisfied with my purchase and would probably have paid more for this e-book. I recommend it to any reader who loves suspense, action, and a feeling of ‘reality’ in the books they read.

George (Amazon reader review, 10/7/18)

Ruthless assassins face off against a janitor, a teacher, and two immigrant children and lose.

Head custodian Frank is just about to lock up Grand Avenue school for the night when he sees the strangers, and the automatic pistols they carry.  Frank knows they’ve come for the two Mexican boys spending the night in Ms. Castellon’s room, and that they could hurt the teacher too.  Rushing through the halls on his bum leg, he has   the kids and the teacher almost out of danger when the killers close in.  Thanks to his quick wits and “dumb luck pushed to the limit,” Frank kills the two gunmen. But he knows more will be coming, so he has to not only get rid of them, but make it look like they were never there.

Before the night ends, Frank learns why the boys were targeted by the drug mob, and just how tough the petite and serious Ms. Castellon can be.  And he finds out they’ve only won the first round of a very tough fight.