Foreword Reviews

A Year in the Life of Dr. Fox

Clarion Rating: 5 out of 5

A man with a double life—doctor and reinvented Zorro—proves a hero in this superb thriller.

Many know Zorro as the mythical, swashbuckling Latino crusader for justice who rides a horse, wields a sword, and protects Mexican settlers in the West from unscrupulous land barons. Fredrick L. Malphurs’s pulse-pounding fourth novel, A Year in the Life of Dr. Fox, reinvents Zorro, aka “The Fox,” for the twenty-first century.

When beloved Tina de la Vega-Sanchez is killed by the Pacific drug cartel, her family vows to use their vast resources to drive the conglomerate from their Mexican hometown of Culiacán. Alfonso, Teodoro, Flaco, and Eduardo (The Fox) work together to accomplish this. Their mission hits snags because Teodoro’s superior in the church pays protection money to the drug lords. Additionally, protection becomes a greater need for Eduardo after he adopts Tina’s three young children. If the Pacific cartel ever learns the alter ego of heart surgeon Eduardo, everything the de la Vegas put on the line will be lost.

Reimagining Zorro as a healer with a family is an ingenious twist, upping the ante as The Fox’s actions spring from personal motivations of protectiveness and love. Doctors are trained according to the tenet, “First do no harm,” yet Eduardo must harm his enemies to save his loved ones. In this modern adaptation, The Fox rides in a luxury car instead of on a horse, and fights using fists and henchmen instead of a sword. This retooling of Zorro as a general in Mexico’s war on drugs, accomplishing what President Calderón’s lawmen can’t, provides the uninitiated with a brief introduction to the setting.

Exposition through dialogue combined with short and snappy chapters make this thriller a true page-turner. Characters are well developed; the many de la Vegas and their allies all have three-dimensional personalties, including Tina’s three young children. Female readers will be pleased when Eduardo teams up with Lena, a tough prosecutor. An abused woman Eduardo rescues evolves into a fiercely protective nanny for the children. The drug runners, too, have depth of character; some feel trapped in a dangerous profession, unable to leave due to a sense of honor, or a need to earn a living.

While the war rages on, even Eduardo himself wonders about the efficacy of killing kingpins who run cartels like businesses: “the killers replace the managers, and then solve the cartel’s problems by…killing whoever gets in the way.” While he knows that a more menacing danger may replace the known evil he’s taking out, The Fox vows “to restore peace and hope to our community.” Anyone who adores superheroes or those who root for the underdog will gladly ride along with this gallant modern Zorro and be drawn into his world.

Reviewed by Jill Allen

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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