Joey O'Shay is not the real name of the narcotics agent in an unnamed city in the center of the country. But Joey O'Shay exists. The nearly three hundred drug busts he has orchestrated over more than two decades are real, too; if the drug war were a declared war, O'Shay would have a Silver Star.
With nerves and mastery worthy of his subject, Charles Bowden follows O'Shay as he sets in motion his latest conquest, a $50 million heroin deal that originates in Colombia and has federal agents sitting at attention from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to New York City. As it unfolds, O'Shay reveals the unerring instinct and ceaseless vigilance that have led him through minefields and brought down kingpins. But now they have led him to a place where it isn't so clear who the heroes are or what the fight has been for. And still the warrior fights on, in a murky and unforgiving landscape readers will not be able to forget.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The problem with this book is the same as with all Charles Bowden books, they read like maybe a bad acid trip but you know it was just one of his typical jaunts. You can read it but if you think about it, it will scare you to death knowing it is all true.
Bowden writes in a style I keep wanting to call "straight news poetry." It sometimes seems a tad hard to follow but you eventually realize that is the nature of his subject matter. He does a very good job of conveying the impact of an event without resulting to superlatives, over-hype or trick ponies. The man strings his words together with great skill but I suspect his greater skill is going where others dare not tread, investigating in detail events which frighten away even the state police and he comes back alive to tell it all. If you can handle the truth about arguably the nastiest business on Earth, step into this book and look through the eyes and mind that spent more than 20 years living not "on the edge"...
Bowden's latest sheds light on a dark subject-the life and times of Joey O'Shay, a man who fought on the front lines of this thing we call the war on drugs for the past twenty-plus years. When I say dark, I mean dark.
I found myself closing the book to escape-to make sure the world of comfort I now inhabit was still there. But then I was drawn back for more, like some kid peering through fingers at a scary movie, wanting to see, yet not wanting to see, because I know that this is real: the people are real, the blood also, the deception, the lies, the callous disregard for life and family and love, and all those ruined lives, not the least of which is the life of Joey O'Shay.
Bowden digs deep into the mind of Mr. O'Shay and forces the reader to see things most would rather avoid-how those on the cutting edge of this war start out good-hearted, well-intentioned people and then are forced to commit evil acts or lose at the game. Each of these acts creates wounds to...
As he did in Down by the River, Charles Bowden takes the reader deep into the shadow world that is the war on drugs. This book reads like a well crafted literary mystery novel - think Graham Greene or Scott Turow -except it's true. If you read both River and Shadow, you'll get some idea of the personal toll the drug war takes on the cops and their families, and also wonder how they can go out and fight this evil day after day and year after year. Especially since the street agents are the ones who pay the biggest price, while the "suits" play the career game. Joey O'Shea could be the model for Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice.
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