The Mexican border is a political hot-button issue these days, and absolutely ripe for a thriller. That's what Jason Starr and Will Conrad dived headlong into with their miniseries for AWA Studios, Red Border.
It's easier and more gratifying to review the entire story as a whole. The story is told in four issues that were released monthly and now collected into a single trade paperback collection. Jason Starr is already an acclaimed crime novelist with a solid body of work in psychological thrillers like Cold Caller, Twisted City, and The Follower.
Eduardo and Karina are not poor migrant workers but educated, middle-class liberals with strong opinions about Mexico's political situation. They become targets after speaking out against a drug cartel and have to flee for the US border. They become what the right-wing in the US considers a problem: illegals and refugees. Nobody cares if they're rich or poor here. They're just another pair of Mexicans trying to cross illegally into America. When a local Texan kills the cartel hitmen on their tail and offers them refuge at his family ranch, they're too desperate to say now. The problem is, he and his family are just a little too friendly and eager to keep them around. Eduardo and Karina find themselves caught between a creepy inbred Texan family with an obsession for the Alamo and any refugees that come their way and the Cartel boss and his small army of trigger-happy goons, the only thing left is a collision course.
Starr writes the story with a pulp crime inevitability where evil men and their impulses can only go one way, and the hapless innocent heroes can only keep dodging to get crushed by the unstoppable forces of chaos and destruction. Will Conrad's cinematic layouts and realistic character work grounds the story in a naturalism that makes the story feel like something you might find late night on cable or at the video store (remember those?) that's better than just schlock. It's fast and furious and fun and casts an eye on current affairs with an immediacy as only pulp crime fiction can.
The trade paperback of Red Border is out in October.