Thursday, October 15, 2009
Kirkus Discoveries Review--"Roll Call" by Glenn Langohr/Amazon
Langohr, Glenn Thomas
BookSurge (734 pp.)
19.99 paperback or 5.99 Kindle August 9, 2009
Kirkus Discoveries, Nielsen Business Media
A harrowing, down-and-dirty depiction—sometimes reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic—of America’s war on drugs, by former dealer and California artist Langohr.
Locked up for a decade on drugs charges and immersed in both philosophical tomes and modern pulp thrillers, Langohr penned Roll Call, a light fictionalization of his troubled life. “I went from obsessively pacing my cell and wondering and worrying about how I was actually going to get my attorney to defend me, and how many years this sentence would bring,” writes Langohr in an afterword, “to realizing that if I find a way to write what’s in my head, I can find a way out of this hole I had put myself in!” The book’s hero is Benny “B.J.” Johnson, a kid who grows up in a troubled home. His parents are essentially good, but they fight often. Eventually, his mother escapes, departing in a “small car with over a hundred thousand miles on it and some clothes.” From there, B.J.’s descent is all but inevitable—he hangs out with the wrong crowd and starts dealing. But the author is not content to tell the story from only the protagonist’s perspective. Instead, he toggles the angle like a master director, taking in the stories of American lawmen, Mexican dealers, outlaw bikers, prison guards, pawn-shop dealers and a dude named El Diablo who says things like, “I have a master plan that I am willing to share with you.” Roll Call makes for exciting reading—gunplay, covert operations and backhanded deals abound. The author succeeds by wisely using his experiences to fuel the narrative. A vivid, clamorous account of the war on drugs.