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Triple Crossing: A Novel Hardcover – August 10, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is one of the most accomplished first novels I have ever read. Triple Crossing is full of dangers, deep characters and a story writ on a grand scale."―Michael Connelly

"An honest and engrossing journey into a world of violence and corruption....Rotella knows how the police work, how the criminals operate and how bribes and violence subvert the law. He employs a journalist's sharp eye and a novelist's deft touch to give us a rich portrait of the sights, smells, sounds, beauties, and dangers of life south of the border."―Patrick Anderson, Washington Post

"A remarkable first novel....The pounding action scenes are driven by Rotella's ferocious prose style."―New York Times Book Review

"The reader will be racing along through the pages of Rotella's novel at near break-neck speed."―Alan Cheuse, Dallas Morning News

"Superb fiction debut....Unflinching views of a double agent's harrowing life, a violence-drenched Mexican jail, and the wild border areas complement the provocative plot."―Publishers Weekly

"A strongly choreographed, authentically detailed, and sharply funny tale of cultural complexity and raging global criminality."―Donna Seaman, Booklist

"A fast-paced thriller that rings true to the real story behind the political posturing over the drug war, illegal immigration, and border security."―Kirkus

"Rotella's crime drama captures the feel of the rampant corruption that is the stuff of headlines in the United States and Mexico. This should satisfy readers far beyond the border."―Eric Norton, Library Journal

"Rotella's profound understanding of the many hidden worlds of the border takes this thriller into the realms of nightmare and exquisite terror."―Luis Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North

About the Author

Sebastian Rotella is an author and award-winning senior reporter for Propublica, an independent organization dedicated to investigative journalism. He covers issues including international terrorism, organized crime, homeland security and immigration. Previously, he worked for 23 years for the Los Angeles Times, serving as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and covering the Mexican border. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting in 2006. He is the author of Twilight on the Line: Underworlds and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border (Norton), which was named a New York Times Notable Book in 1998.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (August 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316105309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316105309
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,256,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This novel tells the story about the pursuit of justice by law enforcement on both sides of the U.S. and the Mexican border. It explores and dramatizes the violence and corruption in the drug trade and the human smuggling while at the same time honoring the honest Border Patrol agents on both sides who resist the cartels and often pay a heavy price.

This fast paced thriller has two heroes: working the trenches between San Diego and Tijuana is Valentine Pascatore, a no-nonsense Border Patrol agent of Mexican and Argentine descent. On the side is Leo Mendez, a reformist chief of an elite Mexican police unit known as the Diogenes Group. Most of the narrative alternates between these two protagonists, sometimes it is very tedious and a challenge to follow, some knowledge of Spanish would definitely have been an asset.

Pascatore takes great pride in his position as a border agent, a real pit-bull on the job with of soft side slipping at times as few dollars to illegals to tie them over till they are returned home. His aggressiveness attracts the attention of Isabel Puente, an agent with the U.S. Inspector General's Office who wants to utilize him as an undercover agent to infiltrate the most powerful Mexican crime syndicate. Pascatore accepts the challenge and things goes well at first till one day a disastrous incident puts him on the run. Wrongly accused of murdering a police officer and not wanting to blow his cover he carries on with his assignment in the Triple Border area of South America, a no man's land where any wrong move could be fatal.

The plot is intense with plenty of suspense and action while it follows the hair-raising life of a double agent trying to walk the fine line between good and evil. The emotions expressed by the main characters and the secondary ones are quite credible. Although the narrative passages are highly dynamic the fine details I was missing became overwhelming at times and maintaining focus was a challenge.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written by a journalist who's obviously spent a lot of time covering the cartel "wars" along the U.S./Mexico border, Triple Crossing is incredibly well-researched, smartly crafted, possesses a realistic sense of context and is non-stop entertaining. It's the perfect read for those interested in the subject matter or in crime fiction but don't like bestsellers that water down the content in the interest of pyrotechnics and improbable protagonist heroics.

Not dissimilar to Don Winslow's awesome Power of the Dog, this novel digs deep into the inter-agency (both U.S. and Mexican) battle against the drug cartels without getting too bogged down in statistics or history. Not that I'm opposed to statistics, but Rotella instead focuses on how government and criminal organizations work with and against one another. He focuses on who all the players are, the politics that defines the relationship between government, big business and powerful drug interests, and the psychology that defines the people at the heart of the drama.

Rotella also does a wonderful job creating a complex central character who is neither hero or anti-hero, Border Patrol agent Valentine Pescatore. His motivations are present from the start, but we don't fully appreciate how those could manifest until the end of this gripping novel.

If you like Don Winslow, George Pelecanos, John Gregory Dunne or Dennis Lehane, I think you'll really enjoy Triple Crossing. One of the best crime novels I've read the last couple years.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
....because at various points in this gripping whodunit, the protagonist, a well-meaning but possibly dangerously naive border agent named Valentin-well, he requires lawyers, guns and money AND not necessarily in that order.

So many interesting questions arise when America builds a huge fence around our southern border. Is the purpose of this great fence to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, guns, drugs supposedly coming through Tijuana into the SanDiego area? Or is it to protect Mexicans from the horrendous "thumping" administered by many of the Border Agents? Who suffers when lawmakers turn a blind eye to human suffering in order to line their own pockets? Are there ANY good guys (or women) in this story, or are they all part of a plot? How long can people play fast and loose with the law, pretending to be part of some bizarre old west scenario? Will the sympathetic mexican agent win the day? Will the highly corrupted local, state and federal police on both sides of the fence get what's coming to them? If you enjoyed novels such as MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, WINTER'S BONE and BEAT THE REAPER then pounce now before it becomes a movie and everyone is talking about it......
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Triple Crossing is a great read. The writing is excellent. The author knows his subject matter. The issues are real and well explored. The plot is engrossing--much is at stake. The action is exciting. I really, really enjoyed this novel. With all of the above and Rotella's gifts for dialogue and describing body language, you read this book feeling in great hands. Get ready for some great thrills and to respect yourself in the morning.
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If you live on the border with Mexico this rings a bell of what the drug business is all about. Fast read, good plot line and a keeper. No wonder I tell my grandkids "...say YES to drugs, it's good for job security." It's a way of life, the soft under belly of our society, and true, workable answers are few. Should be on the book list for police academy cadets for it sure covers the streets we work and the people we try to protect you from.
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