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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
A Murder on the Border by Billy Wittenberg has all the elements that make a story impossible to put down. The complex, easy-to-follow plot—thanks to excellent writing—is centered around a naive, convent-raised orphan, Maria, who has the misfortune to fall in love with the dashingly handsome, philandering Victor. A Mexican business owner, Victor will stop at nothing, including murder, to get what he wants. But if there’s one person who won’t let Victor get away with his transgressions, it’s his wife, Sylvia, who demands he get rid of the now-pregnant Maria. The violent, often heartbreaking twists and turns Maria's and Victor’s lives take resulting from Sylvia’s demand are something even seasoned thriller readers won’t expect.
As riveting as A Murder on the Border is, Billy Wittenberg’s characters make the story come to life and give it authenticity. They are the downtrodden have-nots. As youngsters, Maria and Victor shared that background, but Victor grew up on the streets, fighting to survive. Wittenberg brilliantly captures Mexican beliefs and motivations in his self-reflective thinking and dialogue, and although Victor’s actions are despicable, readers understand him and even feel some sympathy for him. Likewise, regardless of the treatment Maria suffers at Victor’s hands, her Catholic convent upbringing, coupled with her love for her infant son, gives her the strength to withstand what life has thrown at her. There are other well-chiseled characters, but Maria, Victor, and Sylvia are unforgettable. The author’s sensitivity to his characters, tight control of a fast-paced plot, ability to clearly depict scenes and competence in capturing the essence of his heritage make this a must-read. I can’t wait to see what he has for us next.