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“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)