3 out of 4 stars
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Busted by Michele Khoury is a thriller that focuses on the current drug epidemic in southern California. The novel is told from the perspectives of three characters: Gina, a young, struggling artist; Bobby, a seasoned DEA agent; and Miguel, a criminal involved with the Cartel’s drug trade. A fateful encounter with a handsome stranger finds Gina unknowingly involved in the Cartel’s business. Struggling to find her footing as an artist and wondering how she will make next month’s rent, the last thing Gina needs is a criminal boyfriend or trouble from his partners. The main players in this novel are all connected by one factor: illegal drugs.
Busted is a fast-paced, easy read. The quick movement of the plot keeps one guessing what will happen to key characters involved in the story. There were many shocking, unexpected plot points, and the use of varying character perspective added to the authenticity of events. In addition, there is a clear undercurrent of realism throughout the narrative. The procedures utilized by Bobby and the DEA, the courtroom scenes, and the descriptions of the Cartel’s involvement in the drug trade all read like credible content, showcasing the author’s commitment to portray a realistic and relevant story.
However, Busted is far from perfect. Though the author’s research and knowledge about the various parties is clear, at times, the dialogue turns a bit preachy, as if the dialogue is just a means for the author to describe the current political climate surrounding illegal drug trade in the country. In addition, many events appear to be resolved too easily, and the timeline is unclear. Although the timeline is linear, there appear to be large forward leaps with no indication of how much time has passed and no clear change in the characters’ emotional state.
Furthermore, the use of multiple perspectives provides insight into the personal lives of the three main players; unfortunately, these three characters fail to develop beyond a basic caricature of their previously mentioned descriptions. Gina is overwhelmingly naive and becomes difficult to like after her consistently poor choices. Bobby, the hardened detective, has trouble at home and always toes the line when it comes to protocol. And Miguel is just a bad, bad guy. Though the author tries to create empathy through Miguel’s relationship with his ailing mother, these portions felt cheap and typical. Overall, Miguel’s portion of the narrative fails to endear Miguel in anyway or make him in the least bit empathetic; in fact, he quickly becomes a typical, tiresome villain.
The superficial character development and the sometimes preachy dialogue led to the subtraction of one star from my final rating. Despite these detractors, Busted is a quick, easy read that holds your attention until the end and succeeds in creating relatively enjoyable suspense; therefore, I rate Busted 3 out of 4 stars. Fans of easy-to-read, quick paced-thrillers will enjoy this one.
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