Juarez Dance by Sam Hawken, is a good fun read, but I’m still not really sure why.
It is the story of a lone wolf hit man, who lives in and loves Mexico. He kills someone at the beginning and then things go real slow for a real long time – seriously. The first half of the book just follows Cooper around day-by-day and minute-by-minute as he protects a wealthy and powerful Mexico drug boss. And this goes on for pages and pages, without much happening and without much of a plot kicking in. Plus, we don’t really get to know Cooper all that well through all of this – the guy is pretty simple and dull. But, what was strange to me while reading all of this –was that I was never bored and always fascinated.
How is that possible? As a writer and as a reader of crime, noir, mysteries and thrillers I am a big proponent of lots of plot, lots of action and of getting things rolling right away. Put the character in jeopardy from page one and then keep bringing on one horrible thing after another. In Juarez Dance chapter one is cool but there is no real jeopardy or much at stake for the guy for about the next hundred pages.
Now, to be sure, the second half of the book is full of action and plot and the stakes get very very high. There is a lot of sex, romance, violence, revenge, and there are many suspenseful chase scenes. Everything is eventually all tied up, and the ending is just right, and very satisfying.
But what kept me in the book? What kept me reading until things got really intense and exciting? Like I said, I don’t really know. Usually I give up on such books early on, and I remember while reading Juarez Dance thinking, “Wow, this is so great and wow, nothing is happening.”
So, I don’t know. I really don’t, but I guess just the day-to-day life of Cooper as written by Hawken was somehow engaging. There is a lot of detail about Juarez, Mexico and Cooper’s life there and it is interesting in a travelogue kind of way. And, there is a certain rhythm to the writing that is appealing and that must help keep the reader interested. And, maybe, Hawken somehow just very subtly keeps a little bit of tension going, a little bit of a feeling of impending doom? That’s got to be the secret.
I highly recommend this book. I do.
I read Juarez Dance on my Kindle and, like many books I have been reading lately I’ve got to ask, “What is with all the typos?” I mean it. This is a high quality professionally-written book and it is full of mistakes, mostly dropped prepositions or, just the wrong word, like from for form, that sort of thing. Now, it is perfectly okay for a DIY blog like this one to be rife with typos, but a book like Juarez Dance? It is just not right. And, I’m a horrible proofreader myself (I was once fired from a job as a proofreader) so for every mistake I noticed there has to be a least two or three more.
What is going on? Was it self published (and I just can’t tell) and he didn’t hire a copy editor and/or a proofreader? Was the independent publisher just not thorough? Does anyone know? It is quite baffling.