By: George Beck
Publisher: Full Court Press
Publication Date: September 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 21, 2009
Emilio is a man on a mission. Coming from a small village near San Salvador, El Salvador, he has illegally crossed into the United States to find work. It is urgent that he quickly earn money to send home to his ailing mother so that she may buy the medicine necessary to save her life. But Emilio finds more money, and more trouble, than he ever dreamed possible shortly after arriving in Phoenix, AZ.
Wandering around Phoenix, Emilio is befriended by 15-year-old Pedro, another illegal immigrant from El Salvador. While the two work a street corner washing windshields, Emilio spots “…a pair of sleek, gorgeous legs, skirt up to the thighs, that belonged to a beautiful gringa in dark sunglasses. She spotted me looking and smiled.” That beautiful woman was Sara, a mysterious chemist who hires the two friends to move some furniture.
When a minor mishap for Pedro extends the duration of both men’s stay at Sara’s apartment, they are at first grateful. But that appreciation soon turns to fear when they realize that Sara is caught up in a plot with a cruel, vindictive terrorist by the name of Julio. This “brute with a ragged scar on his face” is an exiled member of the Mexican Frente Revolutionario who has hired Sara to make a canister of Sarin gas that he intends to use to kill thousands of people. As a witness to a dangerous and deadly transaction, Emilio is soon a target and on the run with Sara, falling in and out of love with the gorgeous, but trigger happy beauty.
Trounce is a novel that pulls the reader into its pages right from the start. The book opens with Emilio and his friend Arturo desperately searching for water after they were forced to flee a broken down van. Within the first few pages, Emilio is faced with a life-altering decision and the author doesn’t slow down a bit, but rather continues his high-speed tempo throughout the book.
The characters in Trounce are far from perfect and each struggles with inner demons. Emilio, who feels he is a coward (and indeed is proven to be so in several scenes) is a surprisingly easy character with whom to identify as he struggles with his desire to help his mother while also sorting out his feelings for Sara. Will the two fall deeply in love or kill each other in their efforts to escape from Julio? The author has done an excellent job of weaving a story in which the reader truly cares about the future of the main characters.
Quill says: Trounce is a fast-paced suspense thriller with more twists and turns than a rowdy rollercoaster ride.