Wheels Up: A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival

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Reviewed by Lynda L. Lock

The debut novel in the cartel trilogy by Jeanine Kitchel is a winner!

Wheels-up: A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, is Jeanine Kitchel’s fast-paced debut novel in her cartel trilogy. Mexico aficionado and prolific writer Kitchel will transport you into the heart of the drug cartel business. Zooming from cities to jungles and haciendas located in Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala, the story will keep you wondering what could possibly happen next.

When El Patron, the head of the Culiacan Cartel in Sinaloa, Mexico, is imprisoned and the men in direct-line for succession are either dead or unsuitable, his niece Layla Navarro is chosen as his replacement. Layla’s vivid descriptions of life inside the double-crossing, brutal existence of the Mexican drug cartels are precisely as I imagined.

In the beginning, Layla is adrift in the male-dominated business operating in a macho culture, but with the assistance of Carlos, her overbearing bodyguard and lover, she quickly learns the ropes. Until she doesn’t — and that leads to a deadly mistake for Layla and her accomplices.

Jeanine Kitchel has written for The Miami Herald, El Universal/Mexico City, The Herald/Mexico City, Baja Times, The Mexico Files and Fodor’s Travel Guides. For decades, she has had an ongoing love affair with Mexico, eventually settling in the fishing village of Puerto Morelos on the Quintana Roo coast. Her local knowledge and experience with Mexico and its culture gives the story an authenticity that is captivating.

I must admit I was prepared to unconditionally loathe the female protagonist, Layla, simply because of her position as boss in a ruthless, soul-destroying business. She is tough and weak, smart and sometimes clueless, but she has a line that she won’t cross — human trafficking. By the end of the novel I was rooting for her to survive.

Jeanine is currently working on the sequel, Layla’s Law… and I am impatiently waiting to read it.

Layla’s comment, ‘You don’t quit the cartel, the cartel quits you,’ sums it all up quite nicely.

Wheels Up: A Novel of Drugs, Cartels and Survival, By Jeanine Kitchel. 2018.

Available from Amazon Books: Paperback  / Kindle

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Published or Updated on: February 16, 2019 by Lynda L. Lock © 2019
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