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Reviewed by Joshua Olokodana for Readers' Favorite
In Extreme Vetting by Roxana Arama, violence begins with a camera and ends with a gunshot. After crossing the US border in 1998, Emilio Ramirez's past catches up with him in the hallway of his sons' high school when ICE arrests him for illegal immigration. They sought to flush him through the system and back to Guatemala, but Ramirez's resourceful son, David, convinced immigration lawyer Laura Holban to represent his father. Laura has always been a pain in the butt of ICE officials, and she delivers as expected, repeatedly frustrating ICE's underhanded methods. However, something is off this time around—someone wants Ramirez in Guatemala, and they hate waiting, even though ICE is doing their bidding. This becomes obvious as they ransack Emilio's house for a photograph and threaten Laura to abandon the case. By the time Laura and the Ramirezes realize the danger, they are already on the hit list of a man reputed for cutting out his enemy's heart, killing the whole family, and burning down their house. Who is after Emilio? How is he influencing ICE, and what is the photograph about? Find the answers in Roxana Arama's Extreme Vetting.
Extreme Vetting by Roxana Arama is a thrilling story with several heart-in-the-mouth moments. It does a good job of conveying the fear and survival drive that makes people from certain parts of the world emigrate, despite being a work of fiction. Filled with criminal actions, intense familial love, violence, heated court skirmishes, and several minor twists, reading it makes you feel as if you're in a barrel rolling down a rugged slope. The plot is so clear; I can't even think of one thing to dislike about it. However, the portrayal of Laura Holban as an imperfect but strong feminine character is the masterstroke. I also liked that the writing was devoid of extraneous words, which made the narration concise. Frankly, I didn't want it to end. Roxana's work is realistic, and the characters are easy to empathize with. Even the ICE officials had moments where you realize they'd have made better choices in a different system. If you want a legal thriller with minimal court chatter, smooth scene transitions, and some sleuthing to go with it, try Extreme Vetting by Roxana Arama.