A Book Spy Review: ‘This Side of Night’ by J. Todd Scott

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This side of nightAs drug wars rage on in Mexico, Big Bend County Sheriff Chris Cherry finds himself in the middle of two rival drug cartels when their violence spills over the border in this lights-out new thriller from J. Todd Scott. 

Mirroring the real-life tragedy from 2014 when a group of Mexican students was gunned down, Scott opens his third book with a busload of student protestors being savagely murdered in the Mexican borderlands at the hands of the vicious Nemesio cartel. When the shooting stops, several are dead, and more than a dozen are unaccounted for. 

For Fox Uno, leader of the Nemesio cartel, killing is just a part of a business. And when Deputy Danny Ford, an Iraqi war veteran who now works under Cherry, finds five bodies floating in the Rio Grande, Chris and company all suspect Uno is behind the murders. Things become further complicated, though, when Uno is forced to flee Mexico due to an overthrow attempt orchestrated by rival gangs and his son, Martino, who wants desperately to claim the throne to his father’s empire. 

Escaping to Murfee, Texas, Uno plans to visit his niece, America (nicknamed Amé) Reynosa—who just so happens to be another one of Cherry’s deputies. That relationship sets off alarm bells with El Paso DEA agent Joe Garrison, who is in Big Bend County after following his own leads. Garrison and Cherry are forced to work together as part of a joint task force of sorts, though they don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on everything. One thing they do agree on, however, is that Nemesio hitmen are working with someone in the States to bring Uno down, likely members of the local law enforcement.

With a trail of dead bodies leading from Mexico to West Texas and no end to the violence in sight, it’s up to Chris Cherry to yet again to find a way to restore the balance before things become any more out of hand . . . and more innocent people die. 

After three gripping and expertly-plotted books, J. Todd Scott deserves to be recognized alongside other greats such as Craig Johnson, Ace Atkins, and Don Winslow—who might just be the most accurate comparison out of authors currently working in the genre. Whereas Winslow has received praise (and rightfully so) for his epic Cartel trilogy, Scott’s has mostly flown under the radar, though they’re every bit as rich with detail, character development, stimulating visuals, and been-there-done-that authenticity. A veteran federal agent who knows this world inside and out, Scott has lived the life he’s now writing about, and that realism bleeds through each and every page, creating a powerful reading experience that is both informative and highly entertaining.

J. Todd Scott remains one of the most criminally underrated authors on the planet . . . This Side of Night is an absolute must-read for fans of Don Winslow and should find its way onto plenty of “Best of 2019” lists later this year.

Book Details

Author: J. Todd Scott
Series: Chris Cherry #3
Pages: 464 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0735212910
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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