Extreme Vetting: A Thriller

Roxana Arama

Publisher: Ooligan Press Pages: 288 Price: (paperback) $18.00 ISBN: 9781947845381 Reviewed: June, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

In this timely thriller, a long-time undocumented immigrant in America finds he’s just one step from deportation no matter how long he has lived and worked in the country.

Laura Holban, an immigration attorney, is herself an immigrant from Romania. Divorced with an American-born daughter, she knows firsthand the difficulties of re-establishing a career and losing the accent that makes her “different.”

Over-burdened with cases and the government’s ever-changing immigration rules, her job has become increasingly difficult – and troubling – as gung-ho anti-immigration lawyers and over-taxed judges send her clients back to dangerous situations in their home countries. But danger gains new meaning when she takes Emilio Ramirez’s case. The government’s haste to deport Emilio isn’t what it seems, and as Laura, along with Emilio’s son David, tries to untangle the web of lies and deceit, both families face life-threatening situations.

In this well-written thriller, the suspense is palpable and the characters layered and compelling. Laura is an intriguing heroine, humanized by her relationships with her Romanian mother (often depicted on video chat) and her rebellious teen-age daughter. Emilio is a sympathetic character, trying to outrun his past by living an exemplary life in his adopted country. When he’s arrested, his family falls apart: His youngest son struggles mightily with mental health issues; his wife, also undocumented, is now almost certain to be caught in the system. That leaves only teenage David to fulfill the role of family protector, interpreter and realist, confronting an America that isn’t quite “the land of opportunity” his father is always touting.

This is a richly textured story with a strong sense of place (Everett, Washington, near Seattle). Unlike many thrillers, the author doesn’t throw in mind-numbing car chases or frightening twists just for shock value. Here, shocking developments make an important point: Painting all immigrants with a broad brush does a disservice to all. The novel will leave an indelible impression, long after readers turn the last page.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Seattle, Washington
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