by Coral Russell

Verdict: SACRIFICE is a fast and furious force that never lets up until the ride is over.

IR Rating



IR Rating

SACRIFICE immerses us into the edgy world of gang warfare and Mexican drug cartels where the tension and stakes run high.

Roberta, the daughter of high-level leader of the Juarez Cartel escaped punishment and death because of her father’s position, but now must redeem herself for skimming money from her father. Roberta wants to make her money then get out of the business for good. Needing an unsuspicious means to smuggle the drugs, Roberta entices disenfranchised Luis, a successful car salesman who is too good at his job to be promoted to a managerial spot. Luis slowly becomes entrenched in Roberta’s world as a drug runner, also hoping to be able to make enough to retire in a couple of years. Meanwhile, rival gang member and third generation bastard, Armanda de Salvo III, AKA Duke, takes care of his business, which includes tender and respectful watching over his father, grandfather and ailing great-great-grandmother. Police officer Frankie goes about investigating the murder of a gang member, which sets him on a trail to seek out a now nervous Luis, while Duke’s great-great-grandmother has revealed information about Duke’s birthright that sends Duke on a personal quest to seek out family and revenge.

Author Coral Russell’s impossible-to-put-down thriller gets the adrenalin flowing from the start by immersing the reader into the persuasive story, impelling plot and characters that are fresh and vivid in their paradoxes; sensitive but brutal, black and white yet complex, calm but filled with tension, loyal yet corrupt. The interwoven stories intricately bring out the characters’ heightened psyches and emotions, revealing tightly wound thinking in an edgy environment.

Expertly weaving together fact and fiction, Russell does not use chapters to indicate scene change, instead opting for carefully selected quotations from real-life figures to break up the narrative; to take the chaos, the danger and the thrill of the gang wars and remind us that SACRIFICE is not mere fiction.  The poignant quotations come from a plethora of characters from ex-gang members to musicians, from politicians to spiritual leaders, and serve to add fuel to the content and the exhilarating pace of the unraveling plot. Among the telling quotations are:

“ey ya ima a 18 yrresmen ive been ina gang i noe yall may think dat ima jus playin but I wat yall tah noe lyfe a agangsta is not da lyfe I wanted . . . . “ –Mariah.”

Russell deftly conveys the themes of loyalty and justice as loosely interpreted by criminals, cops and their families through her well-developed characters; but also by creating the dark and volatile world in which they live through tight descriptions: “Death rattles echoed off the concrete walls”.

SACRIFICE is a fast and furious force that never lets up until the ride is over.

Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader

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