Reviews > Published on March 4th, 2014

Bookshots: 'Federales' by Christopher Irvin

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review



Who Wrote It?

Irvin’s sentences are short and brutal like kidney punches, hitting just where needed to have the most impact.

Christopher Irvin, first-time novelist and a fellow Thuglit alum.

Plot in a Box:

An old Mexican federal is pulled out of his self-imposed exile to protect the one woman brave enough to speak out against the corrupt system that has tried to kill them both for their honesty.

Invent a New Title For This Book:


Read This if You Liked:

The Mongolian Conspiracy, any issue of Thuglit

Meet the Book’s Lead:

Marcos Camarena, a decent cop in a dirty town, until his clean nose gets him marked for death by the not-so-invisible powers that be in Mexico City.

Said Lead Would Be Portrayed In a Movie By:

David Zayas, best known for playing Sgt. Angel Batista on Dexter.

Setting: Would You Want to Live There?

Although Federales is set decades after The Mongolian Conspiracy, Mexico City only seems to have gotten meaner. The government has abandoned even the pretense of being the good guys.

What Was Your Favorite Sentence?

They turned onto a side road and headed for the dark heart of the city, where the clouds had eaten the sun.

The Verdict:

Federales is minimalist noir at its best, perfectly evoking a particular time, place and atmosphere with the fewest words possible. Irvin’s sentences are short and brutal like kidney punches, hitting just where needed to have the most impact. As soon as you get a handle on what you think the story is, the status quo shifts drastically without warning. The fact that he was able to render the enormity of Mexico City’s rampant corruption in less than two hundred pages is impressive alone. That he was able to conclude it with a twist ending that felt both unexpected yet inevitable suggests that Christopher Irvin is a future master of the genre making his first contribution to what will hopefully be a long bibliography. Those who enjoyed The Mongolian Conspiracy will find Federales to be a sequel in spirit if not in name.

About the author

BH Shepherd is a writer and a DJ from Texas. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2005 with degrees in English and Demonology after writing a thesis about Doctor Doom. A hardcore sci-fi geek, noir junkie and comic book prophet, BH Shepherd has spent a lot of time studying things that don’t exist.  He currently resides in Austin, where he is working on The Greatest Novel Ever.

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