Kindle Edition, 292 pages
Published December 28th, 2015 by Word Hermit Press (first published September 1st, 2015)
Normally, I don’t care much about drug cartel stories. But after reading this dazzling review of Ochoco Reach from Liis, I was thrilled when I got a review request for it!
Mike’s usual strategy was to gently stir the pot and wait for patterns to emerge, but this case was boiling over from the day Willimina showed up at his office. Freelance investigator Mike Ironwood doesn’t hesitate for a moment when a lovely stranger asks him to help her get to the bottom of suspicious happenings on her family cattle ranch. The case is intriguing, and Willimina even more so. Six days in, the case has turned up two dead bodies, an alphabet soup of secretive federal investigators, and a client who just might be The One. That’s when things get complicated. When a greedy DEA agent and his complicated and deadly triggerman kidnap Willy, Mike enlists help from his brother and sets out to rescue her from a conflicted cartel jefe. The trail leads them deep into Mexico, but they come home with dangerously unfinished business. Ochoco Reach introduces Mike Ironwood, his special ops brother Daniel, and Bucket, a Catahoula leopard dog who is equally at home herding cattle and pinning bad guys to the floor. Together, they are formidable allies who also seem to attract trouble at every turn.
See, this synopsis does a great job at telling the general storyline, but it utterly fails at describing the craftsmanship of the author when it comes to expressing emotions throughout the text. Like Liis says in her review:
“There is so much emotion in this book, it’s heartwarming and not at all overwhelming. Jim Stewart has a way with words, a unique way of describing the feels. A unique way of showing the reader the dynamics in between two living beings.”
I totally felt the same way about this and couldn’t have described it any better myself.
There’s a lot of spirituality and food for thought in it. So yeah, drug cartels and DEA; those things are just tools to incorporate action into this book if you ask me.
The writing style is amazing, the main characters well developed. I felt really connected with Mike and I’m guessing this is how a lot of women feel when they’re reading a steamy romance novel; I know I’m married and all, but ay papi, I want to have Mike’s babies!
He’s kind, loving, fair, strong, intelligent, has a tremendous respect for women, and is the best of friends with his amazing dog, Bucket. That he occasionally hears voices in his head or does things that could get him killed, meh, I’d take that for granted.
I loved Willy as well (though in an entirely different way). She’s the kind of woman I’d like to be! A smart female ranch owner who’s very independent when it comes to men. She has lost her husband, and her boyfriend after that, yet never becomes the introvert, depressed lady a lot of women would have.
My heart especially goes out to Bucket, Mike’s dog who is just a role model for all other dogs, really. My own dog is very kind as well, but definitely not as smart as Bucket. One of the very few hand signals my dog understands is the one where I wave a cookie in the air. Bucket, on the other hand, knows exactly what the situation is like by just giving him a single look.
“I called him Bucket after the hero in Jack London’s Call of the Wild and also after Charles Dickens’s Inspector Bucket”.
My note there was “How cool is that?!“. ‘Bleak House’ is one of my favourite books.
Another thing I noticed when it comes to Mike’s take on Bucket is that he looks at his dog in the way John Steinbeck did with his dog in ‘Travels with Charley’.
“He was a dog and I treated him as such. Dogs are not little people in fur coats”
This is what I always have to remind myself of when I’m talking to my dog like he’s a little baby. Always making that mental note saying that’s not very Steinbeckian of me.
The relationship between Mike and his half-brother Daniel (they share the same father) is wonderfully depicted. Daniel’s mother was a native Indian and that really rubbed off on both of the boys. But before you start thinking that their relationship involves too much spiritual vagueness, they are also just brothers when it comes to competitive playfulness and such.
A random note I made at one point was about this conversation between Willy and Mike:
“How tall are you?”
“Six-four, two-twenty…””but right now I’m probably ten feet tall and weigh maybe a hundred pounds.”
For being a girl from the European mainland who only has ever used the metric system, reading about inches, feet, stone, cups and whatnot is always very confusing. I actually have to google things like that while reading, to get a better sense of what characters are doing or look like. I know in this particular scene, Mike’s just being a show-off, but still, why can’t all authors do this kind of thing when it comes to describing measurements?!
Some more quotes I highlighted because they really show you the real depth to this book:
“In her eyes I saw my own mother and Daniel’s mother and the mother of all of us who have been lonely and who have wandered without deep comfort.”
On finding your limits:
“I would say it’s best if I never really knew”(…where my limits are..).”That way, I can always think of myself as a tough guy ready for anything.“
The only reason why I’m not giving this book 5 brownies is because of the sometimes messy storyline when it comes to the action parts. I thought there would be a whole plot twist, revealing the identity of ‘the guy on the inside’ when it came to the drug cartel business, yet that part was never solved in a satisfying way for me. Sometimes, I got downright confused on who was who and what was happening when it came to the villains. They could use a little more depth, I suppose.
The action scenes in itself were great, though. Blowing up shit to the fullest degree by using grenades and some sort of übercannon really blew my mind (pun intended). I ended up giving this one 4 brownies and a solid recommendation for, well, anyone who likes to read.
A big thank you to Jim Stewart and Jessica Hardesty Norris from Mindbuck Media for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Links to the book: