rain-dogs-by-baron-r-birtcher-1Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

Rain Dogs by Baron R. Birtcher takes place in 1976 at the start of the major drug trade between Mexico and the United States. The story is developed through alternating perspectives that eventually converge. The quickness of the perspective changes limit the character development, but supply a plentiful amount of violence and action to create an enjoyable thriller.

One story line follows Colt Freeman and Snyder as they try to protect their small marijuana operation from the bigger, heavily armed cartels in Mexico. The second story line develops around Miguel Zamora, a rising drug lord with the power of a corrupt Mexican government behind him. The final story line revolves around two dirty border cops, Steve Devlin and Sonny Limon, who are on Zamora’s payroll.

These story lines, eventually converge, but develop with a focus on the action instead of the characters. It actually becomes a bit chaotic as points of view change within chapters. By focusing on the events rather than the characters involved in them, Birtcher never really allows one character to stand out as a clear hero. This approach works well, however, since each character is a villain in his own right. It may be Birtcher’s intention to keep the reader at a distance from the characters in order to focus on the relationships forged between the Mexican government, Mexican drug runners, the Columbian cartels, and small-time marijuana growers.
While the novel may be light on character development, Birtcher supplies an ample amount of explosive action. As with most situations that revolve around the drug trade gun violence proliferates every confrontation. The quick tempered, itchy trigger fingers of those trying to gain any amount of power between the both the physical borders and ideological borders of drug trafficking shine as Zamora’s plans mix with those of each of the other characters to create a combustible climax.

Is Birtcher trying to educate his audience on the perils of the drug trade from small time pot growers to the larger Columbian cocaine syndicates, or is this just a gritty and volatile suspense novel? It’s probably a combination of both, but the emphasis on action versus character development helps point the reader more towards gritty and volatile suspense.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.