Mysterious Book Report The Return

The Return by Michael Gruber

Henry Holt, $28.00, 366 pages, ISBN 978-0-8050-9129-8

Have you ever had dark fantasies?  You know the kind—the ones where you plot a scheme to get even with someone, or something.  Then, reality hits, you come to your senses and the daydream ends with thoughts of the consequences of those actions and the fears of getting caught.

But . . . what if . . . what if revenge was within your grasp?  If you had no fear of the consequences because you had a medical condition that was guaranteed to cut your life short.  Would you do it then?  Would you seek retribution if you thought you had nothing to lose?

The Return, by Michael Gruber does just that.  A book editor named Marder in New York City discovers that he’s dying of a brain tumor, he could keel over at any moment, so he needs to take care of any unfinished business in his life while there’s still time,  Marder is a widower.  His wife, who was born and raised in Mexico, threw herself off the roof of their apartment building in a fit of despondency after learning that her father and mother had been murdered by members of a drug cartel.  Since his kids are grown and living lives of their own, and he’s wealthy—thanks to a fortuitous stock market play—Marder decides he has nothing to lose.  He buys a house on a small island near his wife’s home town in the province of Michoacan on the Baja California coast . . . the epicenter of the drug cartels   . . . and moves there to seek revenge.  Soon he’s at war with two different drug lords who represent two warring cartels.  Fortunately for Marder, he was a special ops grunt in the Central Highlands during the Vietnam War and he has a war buddy named Skelly who served with him in ‘Nam and is along for the ride in Mexico, because he just digs warfare, and he’s good at it.

Sound a bit contrived?  You bet.  But the author has a wonderful talent for drawing gritty scenes with realistic characters and great dialogue, making this a fun and entertaining action-adventure novel that you’ll spend a couple of pleasant days and nights reading.  Have fun!


John Dwaine McKenna