4 out of 4 stars
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Gringo by Dan "Tito" Davis is an adventure travel memoir, albeit from the vantage point of the criminal underworld. This made the book raw, edgy, spellbinding, and unique. The book was published by Full Court Press in 2016. The book follows the upbringing and life of the author since he was a child. It seeks to not only highlight the dangerous life of a fugitive but to also highlight the huge flaws in the American legal system.
Dan Davis was born in South Dakota where he had not experienced drugs or racial diversity while growing up. He was eight when he first saw a black man. He encountered drugs for the first time when he was in college. His friend Ted Jenkins was the first person to introduce him to the narcotics world. In South Dakota, he had been raised with a strong work ethic. What most would consider a means to get high, he saw a means of building a successful business. When he advanced from selling ephedrine to selling cocaine, he got arrested. He got sentenced to 102 months in federal prison, but got released in early 1990. He had not only missed his son's funeral, but he had also been served with divorce papers. He moved on to marijuana and created a business only to be betrayed and falsely accused of running a crystal meth ring. The police did not question this accusation from Marv Schumacher. They were blinded by the need to imprison Dan Davis. Realizing that the law was not on his side, he decided to run to Mexico and start a new life. After running from place to place trying to find a new home, he finally traveled to Medellin in Colombia. He was eager to find a new passport, but he made friends in Medellin while being forced to always look over his shoulder for any signs of authorities. Did he stay in Medellin indefinitely? Was he able to acquire new travel documents? Did he ever find someone he loved? Was he able to evade capture? All these questions will be answered in this amazing book.
This was an informative and captivating book. I was always able to know when the author would do something stupid and potentially disastrous. This would always happen after he wrote the phrase "gringo stupido." It was hilarious how many times this occurred throughout the book. The author created rules in order to evade capture, but he broke every rule by the end of the book. I was shocked to learn about the horrible inhumane living conditions in third world countries. The lawlessness of the many regions the author visited made the fugitive lifestyle to appear to be highly dangerous. I had to compare this kind of living to the broken and occasionally unfair American legal system. The DEA believed the false testimony of a criminal to be the truth. I will honestly admit that this book made me believe that the American police and many law authorities were the main antagonists in the book. I was always routing for the author to best them, either by meticulous planning or an ingenious stroke of luck.
The author did an amazing job in describing the people he met while on the run. Characters like Paul Holt were developed masterfully. The author was described as a brilliant entrepreneur. He made mistakes and always found himself falling in love with some stunning woman he met, but he had unique moments of divine brilliance. He could predict the actions of law enforcement and paramilitary groups in foreign countries. This helped him avoid some dangerous situations. His connections in the criminal underworld were irreplaceable. I enjoyed his unique brand of humour. He seemed to admonish his past self even as he wrote the book. I encountered themes like crime, murder, corruption, poverty, love, friendship, desperation, paranoia, humour, injustice, and betrayal. The author highlighted these themes effectively in this book. I could always mark them while I was reading.
I rated the book 4 out of 4 stars. This is because the story flowed effortlessly, and I could not put the book down until I finished it. Two paragraphs into this book and I found myself lost in the author's life. It was an amazing feeling to always be able to find a rhythm in the book. Despite reading the book for a second time, I could not find any spelling or grammatical error. This led me to believe that the book was professionally edited. The thing that I liked most in this book was how the story flowed effortlessly. The main thing that I disliked about this book was the overly descriptive scenes that highlighted murder and drug trafficking. Gender inequality and female abuse were major themes in this book. The author writes about these themes in clear details. This was uncomfortable to read, but it was also eye-opening.
This book would appeal to readers who would enjoy a refreshing look on international law and the criminal underworld. It would also appeal to fans of genres like crime, murder-mystery, action, non-fiction, and suspense. The book would not appeal to readers who prefer only fictional stories. It was amazing to read through the adventures the author had. It is funny to consider that in sharing his life as a fugitive, he has inadvertently created a guide to such a life.
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