Thursday 13 October 2022

MARK ROGERS - TJ99 (2022)

Synopsis/blurb ...

Back a man into a corner. Take away his ability to earn a living. Imperil his family. Do these things and a man will either stand down or stand up.

It’s happening all over America. First, a guy loses a job. Then his unemployment dries up and he becomes a 99er. Rafe is one of these unfortunates. He coasted through life until the bottom fell out. Instead of slowly circling the drain, Rafe and his Mexican-born wife Paloma decide to leave Southern California behind and make a new life in Tijuana, Mexico.

Life is humming along south of the border until one bad move finds Rafe sucked into the Tijuana underworld of drug cartels. Years of laidback living have ill-prepared Rafe for life or death stakes.
Rafe has to up his game in a big way—and fast.

TJ99 is the first in Mark Rogers series of Tijuana Noir novels. He's published five to date.

Like my previous encounters with Rogers' work, I enjoyed it.

America has eaten up and spat out another victim. The job has gone and the bank is taking back the home. Estrangement from grown family, makes a move south a slightly more attractive option for Rafe and his wife, especially as they can crash with her family until Rafe finds work and things improve.

So far so good, until a detestable and feckless family member gets Rafe involved in drug cartel business. Danger, escalation, kidnapping, cross border smuggling - people and drugs and an unlikely fightback. 

I enjoyed the story. It's a tough read in places, especially one man's desperation as the economy and circumstances and life have ground him down. Its an increasingly common tale, as not just in the US and even the UK, the rich and powerful seem to want a bigger slice of the cake to the detriment of those at the lower end of the food chain. Don't you hate bankers and big business and enabler politicians that rig the game in favour of those who always have more than they could ever need?

I liked how Rafe wasn't quite broken and had enough spirit to fight for the women he loved. There is also an uplift, in a form of reconciliation with his son.

Hope and optimism, sometimes in short supply is never quite extinguished. 

4 from 5

Gray Hunter, The Death Dealer (with Adam Rocke) and Red Thread have been enjoyed before.

Read - September, 2022 
Published - 2022
Page count - 240
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle


  1. This one does sound potent, Col. And it's gut-level real life, too. There are so many people who've been shoved out because of the economy, and it makes people do desperate things. I can see how it'd be a tough read, but it sounds realistic.

    1. Margot, it's a kind of 'out of the frying pan into the fire' situation! I really enjoyed it.

  2. Sounds like a tough read, Col. But the real financial problems of the character appeal to me. I’ve read some of Rogers’ short stories. So this one is on the list.

    1. I liked that backdrop to the novel. I think a lot of people can relate to the pressures of financial difficulties and a lack of opportunity to alleviate them.