“Settling in for a long plane flight, I woke up my Kindle and clicked Allegiance, a Thriller. Five hours later, the pilot’s announcement that we had reached our destination annoyed me to no end. This book is that good.
The opening of Allegiance has attorney Cruz Marquez, outfitted in fatigues, lying on his stomach on the Arizona desert floor observing a group of Mexican citizens preparing to illegally cross the border into the United States through binoculars. When the exhausted, dehydrated group of people near Cruz, he and his partner get up onto their feet, grab jugs of water, and approach them. When they are “within yelling distance,” a “shooting gallery” erupts. It is at this point the reader is clued into the fact that they have been launched at top speed into a riveting, shocking roller coaster ride that exposes the very ugliest parts of our society and unfathomable evil. Though Blass notes that the incidents in his story are drawn from his imagination, we all know from the news that border and drug cartel issues are quite real.
Aside from being a well-written, pulse-pounding thriller, I view Allegiance as an exposé into human corruption and how the human mind can be corrupted through the evil acts of others. It’s safe to presume that Blass’s legal experience and understanding of criminal profiles gave him the tools to carve out meaty, compelling villains who evoke sympathy at times, not because we condone their heinous acts, but because Blass expertly shows what created the miscreant. He doesn’t remove their responsibility for their actions, but does give food for thought of how we as individuals can make a difference by opening our eyes to what is going on around us (every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the US involving 6 million children) and taking action. There is a powerful scene where hired killer Tyler gives a heart-wrenching account of the extreme abuse he experienced as a child and asks Cruz, “Where were you?” The question of course is “Where are we?”
Blass brings back characters from Book One, Enemy in Blue, deepens their development, and also introduces new well-crafted heroes and villains. There is one hero in particular I would like to mention: Octavio, a noble nineteen-year-old who impulsively decides to search for Cruz who is missing. Octavio does find Cruz and also finds himself smack dab in the middle of horrific violence. After pondering this brave, moral young character— the sort of boy I would want my daughters to date— I couldn’t think of another fictional teenage boy in literature I liked better. Octavio won me over completely. My only spoiler: he survives.
Last element I’ll bring up is mechanics. Blass is a master at creating a vivid picture. He focuses on details that matter, but does not bog the story down with too many. He is also extremely skilled at creating “real” and smart dialogue. Both these elements make reading Allegiance similar to watching an action-flick on the big screen, which I hope to see one day.
Needless to say, I highly recommend Allegiance, a Thriller, as well as Enemy In Blue, though I do caution if you have a huge objection to foul language and extreme violence, prepare yourself for both, and if you’re not allowed to watch movies rated above PG-13 yet, you’ll have to wait on the Cruz Marquez series.