Mar 21, 2010

Book Review: Anarcho Grow by T.A.Sedlack

Strange doings in Costa Rica. The novel opens with an American man named Ben who isn't who he says he is, doing something he's not supposed to be doing but we don't know what exactly. That is a mystery that is slowly revealed.

It's not a traditional mystery although its main character acts mysteriously for most of the novel. It's not a whodunit, so much as a what the heck are they doing or why are they doing it? Ben's motives are idealistic and he is a combination of innocence and guile. Like Plucky Purcell, he's not a criminal, he's an outlaw. For a good cause. Drugs are involved but not in the way you might think. This novel has a new take on pot smuggling.

I've been to Costa Rica and Sedlak's descriptions of people and place ring true and vivid. He circles the meaning of "Pura Vida" throughout the book, but I couldn't define it for you even now. Maybe that's the point.

I found I became a little unstuck in time because some chapters were from 2001 and some from 2006 and I had trouble following the shifts. The 2001 chapters were about when it all started-- the plan and the romance-- and the 2006 sections were "now".

The tension of the events is wound tight by the gradual closing in of CIA agents on the protagonist. It's a story of a man who came back one too many times to the scene of the "crime". Sedlak's novel has a heartbreakingly hopeful ending.

I enjoyed this very original story.

Leslie W. LePere designed the vibrant cover of Anarcho Grow. Aftrlifers will know him from the Tom Robbins novels he has illustrated.

Anarcho Grow by T. A. Sedlak, published by This Press Kills Fascists Publshing, 2010.