4 out of 4 stars
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Gringo: My Life on the Edge as an International Fugitive is Dan “Tito” Davis’s memoir, a gripping, incredible tale of crime and evasion.
Dan “Tito” Davis is living the life. The brains behind a multimillion drug-trafficking ring, he has the fancy cars and the big house, the trophy wife and mandatory diamond pinkie ring. It all goes sideways, however, when he’s betrayed by a friend and close contact, and is set to face some jailtime. Left with no other choice, he goes on the run, vowing to only return to the US either cuffed or dead. This story follows Dan on his harrowing journey from country to country, surviving using only his wits and connections.
This book can be best summarised as the Olympic-level version of a midlife crisis. As Dan racks up experience and mileage, he becomes the victim of multiple dangerous near-misses and seemingly ill-fated romances. The range of emotions from feelings of accomplishment and elation to paranoia and guilt then back again meshed with the fast pace of the story. You couldn’t help but feel, even with Dan’s less-than-stellar character, some measure of anxiety for him with the descriptions of his time on the run.
It was the little moments in Gringo that I lived for. A favourite of mine is Dan’s not-so-glorious trip to Guatemala City. During his bus journey, he is first seated beside a woman, only to find out quite hilariously that she has lice. He moves, then promptly gets urinated on by a piglet disguised as a baby. A few minutes later, he, along with the other lice-infested and piglet-smuggling passengers, bears witness to the natural birth of, not one, but two babies in a ditch outside the parked bus. There were quite a few instances like these peppered throughout the novel, most highlighted by what Davis self-deprecatingly refers to as his ‘gringo stupido’ mode.
The title should serve as an indicator that Gringo’s contents have little correlation with any moral law and are not on the rose-coloured wavelength at all. While this book doesn’t exactly glorify violence, the gritty, often seedy and downright disgusting acts don’t hold back in their reminders that the world is not a perfect place – sometimes the choices we make aren’t always right and our lifestyles need a complete one-eighty.
There was nothing I particularly disliked about the novel, though I should point out that the chapters felt rather overlong. Readers must also be made aware of profane and erotic content; however I feel this is to be expected given the subject matter and when dealing with real-life retellings. Only three errors were noticed, plus the book was very well-written. I believe it may have been professionally edited.
I rate Gringo 4 out of 4 stars. This rating is fully deserved as the story is entertaining with a fantastic delivery. I recommend this book to mature audiences who enjoy reading memoirs or autobiographies with added elements of crime and action.
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