Weekend Reading

Jun 7, 2024

Regardless how you describe the thousands of people flooding across our southern borders with Mexico, we have an immigration problem.

Conservatives call it an invasion; liberals tend to ignore it -until these folks start being delivered to their doorsteps. Then they call it a crisis.

It’s gotten to the point that the Biden Administration has finally acknowledged two things: 1) first, that it’s a problem, and, 2) it’s important to voters. Consequently, on Tuesday, the president issued an executive order regarding the southern border, limiting asylum rules and theoretically allowing the rapid return of migrants over the border.

Whichever imperative spurred the action, most border observers say the move is “too little, too late” and we have no way of actually knowing how many “visitors” have already arrived.

I’ve finished reading a new piece of fiction from Nicholas Orr, the author of the “Pipe Hitter’s Guides” that puts a dark spin on what is already a shaky situation. Blood Trail asks -and answers- a question many of us have been asking for some time: with all the undocumented folks coming in, what might happen if some of them have bad intentions?

Blood Trail -is it a work of fiction, or a piece of predictive prescience waiting to be proven out? Only time will tell, but the idea of preparation is never a bad one.

When I first started reading, I thought it might be just another of the slightly far-fetched books based on a far-right fringe supposition. This one being that China, and others, were using the open border to flood our country with terrorists.

Today, I’m not so certain that life isn’t imitating art-again. There’s no doubt there are bad actors among the hordes.

There’s even less doubt that there are plenty of fit young men, of many different nationalities, of military age, who are sliding into the country and disappearing. Hopefully, the majority of them are as described: impoverished people looking for a better way of life.

I’m still not certain I’m buying into Orr’s idea that “walking among them are thousands of military aged men who are not interested in the American dream.” But “suspension of disbelief” isn’t that big a reach.

There’s a simple reason I can suspend disbelief and find myself sharing the general concern: too-many Americans are benignly ignorant about what’s happing outside their immediate circle.

Too often their only concern is focused on whatever they’re constantly flipping through on their phones. Life is not all funny puppies, acrobatic kittens or instructional videos on the latest hip-hop dance move.

The premise of Orr’s latest book is simple and believable: a pair of Texas combat veterans realize their country has no interest in protecting them. As protagonists in action stories do, they “take it upon themselves to organize and train their neighbors to protect and defend their communities.”

There are twists, turns and variations on the theme, but the story is one that isn’t nearly the bit of escapist fiction I might like it to be.

From knife attacks to rapes, robberies and carjackings to murder, it’s difficult not to ascribe the worst qualities of humanity to many from the human hordes. As crime has skyrocketed in those overwhelmed border areas, much of the crime, petty and major, has been -and still is being- committed by them.

That’s the concerning part of Orr’s writing.

He picks at the thoughts lurking in the backs of many minds: what if someone really is flooding our country with people who intend to do us harm? Could we defend ourselves or our families?

Orr’s writing is solid, but the things that make the story most concerning is the fact that he looks at the “coincidences” along the border with the same military mind that he uses when talking tactics or teaching civilians how the military looks at problems. It’s the same way protagonists Aaron Iversen and Tony Brooks look at everything from the creation of a very mission-capable “neighborhood watch” to their approach to church security.

This is the first of what Orr says will be a series of Pipe Hitter novels -and he’s done a good job of leaving readers in suspense, waiting to see what’s next for Iversen, Brooks, and, just possibly, the rest of us.

You can get the first installment of the series (paperback only) on Amazon for $9.49. It might make you a bit more “aware” of the headlines. And situational awareness is important today.

We’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd