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by Martha Egan
In 1988, long before the Patriot Act made outrageous
invasions of Americans' privacy an everyday occurrence,
Beverly Parmentier, hardworking owner of a small
imports store in Albuquerque, finds herself under
surveillance. She isn't paranoid; she is being followed.
Whether it's a trip to the corner store, a Yampa
River rafting expedition, or a luxury vacation to
St. Barth's, someone is keeping tabs on Beverly.
Her phones are tapped, her mail is opened, her house
is searched whenever she leaves home for a few days.
Yes, she stood up for a fellow importer unjustly accused of smuggling. Yes, she
protested to her congressman when the newly beefed up and power hungry US Customs
Service drilled holes in her folk art shipment from Peru searching for drugs.
But she has no criminal connections, no arrest record. Beverly's Latin American
import business, La Ñapa, is her one person foreign aid program, an extension
of the values she embraced in the 60s as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia.
A fubsy, impecunious 42 year-old importer, she wonders how she could be considered
a threat to anyone.
Are her Latin American connections truly suspicious? Or do they serve as an excuse
for arrogant customs officials to wage war on an outspoken female importer and
have some federally funded fun in the bargain?
Beverly's ordeal is alternately sinister and hilarious, illustrative of the abuse
of power and the power of friendship. Clearing
Customs is a fast paced wild ride as Beverly and her pals confound the twisted
agendas of thugs in high places.
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Hardcover: ISBN#978-097558810-9 $24.95
Paperback: ISBN#978-0975588116-3 $14.95
Author Praise for Clearing Customs
"Has Carl Hiaasen switched states and gender or what??? Is the best-selling mystery novelist now targeting his noir satires not at Florida but New Mexico, going undercover as a Santa Fe gallery owner named Martha Egan? Egan's Clearing Customs wages jihad on the same brand of self-serving cretins that overpopulate Hiaasen's Miami, heavy-handed, power hungry, sloppy politicos and so-called public servants too ready to break the law to enforce it. And anybody who loves Hiaasen will have a ball reading Egan's fast-paced, chiliflavored, and always entertaining mystery."
—Bob Shacochis, American Book Award, 1985, Easy
in the Islands; Prix de Rome, 1989, The Next New World
"Thanks to Martha Egan for giving us Beverly -- a river running, shop-keeping protagonist who doesn't look like a Barbie doll, to propel her page turning story about a brave new world where privacy does not exist. Read this book at your own risk. You may never feel the same about your mail, your phone or your life. "
—Elizabeth Cohen, author of The
Family on Beartown Road, a New York Times Notable Book, 2003
"If you suspected the government was tapping your phone, following you around, and otherwise harassing you unjustly, you could passively ascribe it all to paranoia, or, like Beverly Parmentier, the protagonist in this exciting novel, you could fight back. I'd bet that, in a similar situation, the author, Martha Egan, would do just what Beverly Parmentier did and that she'd be as successful at it as she is in the writing of this terrific and engaging story."
—Fred Harris, former US Senator (D-OK), author of ten nonfiction books and three novels.
His most recent book is Following
the Harvest: A Novel
"In Clearing Customs, Martha Egan has written a flaming indictment of government bureaucracy run amok. . . Humor and compassion abound in this personal odyssey of Beverly Parmentier, an importer of folk art, whose adventures transport her from the American Southwest to Mexico to the French Caribbean and back again. Supported by a tiny coterie of fellow individualists, the River Rats, Ms. Parmentier feistily challenges corrupt government agency officials and their minions...."
—Jack Loeffler, ethnomusicologist, radio producer, aural historian, author of
Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of Abbey
"Can a novel about a 42-year-old ex-hippie who describes herself as ‘built like a Buick’, and her entanglement with the US Customs Service become a grip? The answer is yes! Clearing Customs by Martha Egan ought to be required reading for anyone who sits on a Congressional Oversight Committee. With clarity, honesty, humor, and emotional depth, the book draws the reader into a narrative that rings with authenticity, a tale about the absurd, insane games that out of control ‘special agents’ play with those they select as targets: citizens like you and me."
—Wick Downing, Author of Leonardo’s