3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Path of the Devil: Camino Del Diablo is a true crime novel by Dianne DeMille, Ph.D., retired Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Larry Hardin, and private investigators Jeffrey Pearce and Randy Torgerson, based on their investigation into a Mexican drug cartel. In 1975, DEA agents Don Ware and Roy Stevenson were investigating the Meraz brothers for heroin trafficking when the cartel targeted them for murder. The Mexicans ran them off the road, pistol-whipped, stomped and kicked them, then loaded them into Don's pickup for disposal in the desert. During a failed escape attempt, the Mexicans shot them until they ran out of bullets, hitting Don four times and Roy twice. The agents played dead and survived...just.
Larry Hardin grew up in Big Plum Creek, Kentucky. After a six-year stint in the Navy from the age of 25, winning awards and medals, he moved back to San Diego, California with his Spanish wife. Larry worked as a Correctional Officer and reviewed documents for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) before he got a call from recruiter Gus to join the DEA. Learning of the Meraz drug cartel, he resolved to investigate and prosecute them as justice for the attempted murders of DEA agents Ware and Stevenson. However, with corruption rampant in law enforcement, including the DEA, Larry didn't know whom to trust and turned to private investigators Jeffrey Pearce and Randy Torgerson to help him with the case.
The story transpired from the viewpoints of Larry, Jeff, and Randy. As the DEA agent handling the case, Larry's contribution was the largest. I found the backgrounds of these men interesting, as these helped me understand how they all ended up involved in the Meraz investigation. The book then followed the investigation step-by-step, from Larry's early inquiries through to joining forces with Jeff and Randy from Pearce Investigations. Larry sought to overcome police and DEA corruption, which was why he ended up working with an independent source. The story became convoluted at times due to obstacles in the investigation and the intricate web of players in the criminal underworld. Somewhat difficult to follow as a reader, this gave great insight into how complicated the investigation would have been for these men. I learned much about the drug epidemic in the US and Mexico from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo was a powerful story filled with money, murder, corruption, and deceit. It contained some harrowing moments where investigators feared for their lives and had to think quickly to save themselves, sometimes lying their way out of trouble. This gave a great feel for the seriousness of the situation, how far the investigators would go, and how far the cartels went to hide their activities from the law. The authors included some black-and-white photographs of the investigators, along with some large drug hauls from Larry Hardin's work as a DEA agent.
The only negatives I found in this book were minor editing issues. In the preliminary pages (i - xii), the header on every second page was "Path of he Devil" instead of "...the Devil." There were some unnecessary commas, such as: "Jose was Olegario's, right-hand man." Several times, an extra word was left in a sentence during editing, such as: "A lot of people in law enforcement assume already think you're agents anyway." There were a couple of font changes from Times New Roman to a sans-serif font and back. I also found it jarring at times where a new section would start, headed "Jeff," talk about Jeff in the third person for a paragraph, then jump back to the first person for his perspective.
Overall, Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo was a powerful and interesting true story. Though necessarily convoluted by the nature of the events involved, I still found it an entertaining narrative by three men in a tense and difficult situation, where one wrong move could have cost them their lives. Unfortunately, due to the editing, I can only rate it 3 out of 4 stars at this point. However, I feel that fans of true crime, especially those interested in the operations of major drug cartels, would find plenty to interest them in this book.
Admin's Note: The author has notified us that the book has been edited since the review to fix the errors noted by the reviewer.
Path of the Devil: Camino del Diablo
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon