Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dope Thief-Dennis Tafoya

Dope Thief
Dennis Tafoya
St. Martin’s, Apr 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312531157

Ray and Manny met as tweeners at a juvenile detention center. They became pals and remain so two decades later in spite of both spending time in prison. Each has a long rap sheet that is loaded with burglaries.

The pair managed to come up with DEA badges and DEA windbreakers. For the past year in Philadelphia they have raided two bit illegal drug operations pretending to be Federal agents; they especially like hitting meth labs. Their scheme is brilliant as those they rob from cannot call the cops or afford to hunt them down. However, they make a big error when they accidentally steal from someone holding a few hundred grand. They know he and his cohorts are coming after them as Ray concludes their crime spree is over and wants out if he survives, but doubts Manny or the mark chasing them will allow him to just leave alive.

In many ways this character study focuses on the nurturing vs. naturing debate as Ray’s father insists he cannot overcome generations of criminal activity that flows in his blood while a woman he likes insists he can if he truly wants to. The story line is packed with plenty of action, but is more a character study than a crime tale as the audience sees deeply what makes Ray tick especially while he looks back at his past and considers his future while in the hospital. Dennis Tafoya provides a fascinating glimpse at a young man whose life has been criminal and whose future looks short.

Harriet Klausner