Valentine Pescatore, after got into trouble in his native Chicago, moved closer to the Mexican border in San Diego, where he began to work as a Border Patrol Agent. Pescatore’s supervisor Agent Garrison is a dirty cop and carries out assignments for the serious people from the cartel. American government has long been dreaming to expose Harrison, but he is very careful and does not make mistakes. When Pescatore violates the law by crossing the border with Mexico, it offers big troubles for. American female agent Isabel Puente investigating the affairs of the influential members of the cartel, offers Pescatore to go undercover, rubbing in the credibility of Garrison, which can lead to the top of the cartel - Junior Ruiz Caballero. This way the agent may avoid prison. Pescatore, a rookie, agrees, but also manages to sleep with Puente. And if beautiful Puente entirely trusts Pescatore, then one more important character of the book - Leo Mendez, a former Mexican journalist and now head of anti-corruption unit in Tijuana – believes that Pescatore is an unreliable source that can work on both sides. Mendez is not only famous for his probity that even causes fear among dishonest: he also heads the so-called The Diogenes Group, which includes the most proven people of Mexico, and two aides of Mendez are called Athos and Porthos.
When Garrison is killed in a shootout, Pescatore is embroiled in a web of intrigue, working for the cartel. The undercover agent after a certain time is cut off from Puente and Mendez. Now, for him the most important thing is to survive.
Rotella is a journalist, who have been writing for decades about the US-Mexican border. He know what happens at the junction of the two states. Because of that the novel seems at times more non-fiction, than fiction. Human trafficking (and not only from South America but also from Asia and Eastern Europe), drug trafficking and piracy, arms smuggling, lawlessness in Mexocan prisons - all that Rotella describes as a matter of course. The author digs much deeper and dedicates the reader in the whole corrupt scheme, linking Americans and Mexicans. Subordination of the Federal Police to Mexican cartel and the city police to corrupt officials, close cooperation between U.S. senators and psychopath of the Mexican cartel. These schemes works in novel’s plot. The plot, by the way, is rather disingenuously made. Part of the intrigue is predictable, but the other part will present surprises.
Of all the heroes of the book the most interesting is Pescatore (Puente is nothing more than a faceless, but pretty representative of American power, and Mendez is roughly described fighter for justice), as the most hesitant and unsure of himself and others. He is caught between two abysses - between the thugs of the cartel and Mendez who hating the agent.
Style of Rotella immediately gives us impression that the author is a journalist. He writes dryly, at length, sometimes there is mismatch between the fast scenes and "slow" language. Here the author describes Puente: «She advanced with lithe, sure-footed strides, grinning playfully. She had her hair pulled back today like a flamenco dancer, bringing out the feline bone structure, the wide-set eyes. She was diminutive, athletically well proportioned, wearing a snug gold turtleneck and matching corduroy pants. The belt holster peeking out of her down vest was empty; US agents were forbidden to carry firearms on Mexican soil. But Méndez suspected that she was packing her second gun, a short-barreled automatic, in one of her knee-high suede boots or the bag over her shoulder.» And this is Pescatore after using drugs: «What did he remember about her? Her name: Marisol? Soledad? The tops of her breasts swelling out of a leotard. Extra heft in the hips and thighs. Turning, posing on the dance floor, swaying against him in knee-length leather pants. Marisol-or-Soledad was from Calexico. Said his accent in Spanish was cute, reminded her of this South American singer on MTV Latino. She was one of the platoon of women waiting when the homeboys arrived at the ranch. The place was fancied up for a party: mariachis, an outdoor bar, a disc jockey on the gazebo spinning tunes. Oldies for cholos: "Always and Forever," "Who's That Lady?," "Lean On Me." But the mood was less than mellow because Pelón wandered around firing one-armed volleys at the stars with his AK-47."
Perhaps in his next novel Rotella will be more concise and give up on his love for excessive descriptiveness.
«Triple Crossing» is certainly a fascinating and dangerous journey to Latin America, and Rotella in his debut novel shows that he is capable of much.