In The Chili Line by Charles D'Amico, in the late 19th century, Bert Baggio, a distant relative of the notorious Neil Baggio, has been assigned the dangerous task of keeping a close eye on important documents associated with the construction of a new secretive rail line. Bert must transport the documents from Sante Fe to Denver. However, he soon realizes that there are many people who will stop at nothing to prevent him from reaching his destination. He meets an unlikely partner in a Native American girl, Sissin, and together they battle to keep one step ahead of their enemies while trying to track down an elusive figure called 'the benefactor.' When the bodies begin to mount up, Bert and Sissin must place their trust in one another, something neither of them is used to doing, if they are going to survive.
I cannot get enough of Charles D’Amico’s stories! There is something special about the way he writes his stories and makes them come alive. The detailed background and the character development are always the stars of his tales, and The Chili Line is no different. Bert Baggio is a simple man with simple needs. Sissin is my new favorite character by Mr. D’Amico. She has the street smarts and charismatic charm that make her stand out. The narrative is the real hero of the story. There is never a dull moment in the plot, it moves at a steady pace and allows the action to grow. I enjoyed the parallels that Bert and Sissin showed with their actions. The element of humor is just the cherry on top. As expected, brilliant!
A Charles D’Amico novel is always entertaining enough to make you forget the passing of an idle hour. The Chili Line is the type of book that keeps you company in those hours waiting at the airport or during a long commute. It has a plot that justifies the book’s existence to compete with other commercial fiction. The protagonist’s narration has a tone that marks him as a young man living on the edge and is not afraid to stare Death in the eye. It does have a spark of humor that is just enough to alleviate excessive tension. D’Amico takes you into the past to construct a gritty western adventure involving a relative of his contemporary creation, Neil Baggio. This essentially adds to the three-dimensionality of Neil as a character, as D’Amico explores an area in the Baggio lineage. There is always a thrill to be had when reading about men in trains during the dangerous times of the Old West, which makes this Bert Baggio Western a book to read next time you want to pass the time.
There was never a dull moment throughout The Chili Line by Charles D'Amico. The brilliant double act of Sissin and Bert is thrown from one calamity to the next and the action and adventure are continuous. The characters are so realistic, they jump from the page and you become totally immersed in their world. The author has given a great deal of consideration to the smallest of details of each character's personality. I found the narrative and situations throughout so witty and there were some truly laugh out loud moments. The relationship between Sissin and Bert was beautiful, it developed perfectly. Sissin was my favorite character, her fearlessness and brutality towards her enemies were outstanding. Her backstory, however, explained why her behavior was so extreme at times. I enjoyed how the author used analogies to describe situations and even characters. This was my favorite: 'His name is Able Smith, a man whose name is just as exciting as his personality.' There are also many heartwarming and emotional scenes, such as when Sissin cradled Manny's body. This is a well-written, extremely funny story. A rollercoaster of action until the end.