With “Double Wide,” Leo Banks has ventured into a new profession — thriller author. His writing style will remind readers of Robert Crais, specifically his Elvis Cole series. The colorful characters have great banter between them, often showing their cynicism of the world.
Thirty years ago, Banks traveled with the Mexican Baseball League, joining his friend who was a pitcher on the team. “I used that experience as a springboard for my book ‘Tequila Sunday.’ Now, 30 years later, I rewrote the plot using the characters I have had in my head for quite awhile.”
The main character, “Whip” Stark, is a former professional baseball pitcher who squanders his talent and money on drugs. After doing time in a Mexican jail he buys an abandoned trailer park west of the Tucson Mountains. He is leading a recluse’s life until someone leaves him a box with a severed hand. Thinking it is a former catcher, Rolando Molina, Stark vows to find the body and bring it home. He joins forces with reporter Roxanne Santa Cruz to find his baseball buddy.
Using his vast experiences as an Arizona reporter, Banks is able to give a vivid picture of the Arizona desert and citizenry. A quote in the book shows how Tucson is a weigh station for drug smugglers with its rugged terrain and decoy loads. “The drug trade has burned a hole through Tucson’s innocent heart.”
Banks noted, “Tucson and Phoenix are drug smuggling hubs. Having lived in Tucson for almost forty years I know that drug shootings are pretty frequent. Although illegal immigration has lessened, drug smuggling has not diminished and has actually become better and more efficient. They are still poisoning people with their junk.”
It is hard to believe that this is Banks’ debut novel. Blending together the drug cartel, baseball, and an abandoned gold mine allows for a fun crime plot.