In 1988, Beverly Parmentier, hardworking owner of a small imports store in Albuquerque, finds herself under surveillance. She isn’t paranoid; she is being followed. Her phones are tapped, her mail is opened, her house is searched whenever she leaves 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.
Beverly’s ordeal is alternately sinister and hilarious, illustrative of the abuse of power and the power of friendship. Clearing Customs is a wild ride as Beverly and her pals confound the twisted agendas of thugs in high places.
Beginning with its debut novel, Papalote Press has has won awards both for design and content. OnLine Review of Books and Public Affairs named Clearing Customs 2005 Fiction Book of the Year.
“Egan’s Clearing Customs wages jihad on the same brand of self-serving cretins that overpopulate (Carl) 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
“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. . . .”
—Jack Loeffler, ethnomusicologist, radio producer, aural historian, author of Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of Abbey
“If revenge is a dish best eaten cold, Martha Egan has taken 16 years to freeze herself a vengeful Popsicle of a book.”
—Patricia Miller, The Durango Herald, January 14, 2005
“…For those who think that government officials have distorted their commitment to the larger public good, Egan provides ample ammunition for such reasoning. I recommend the book to all, but do not recommend bringing it with you on international flights where you may be stopped by Customs agents!”
—Brian Kane, former Peace Corps volunteer, currently Assistant Director of Admissions, The New School, in PeaceCorpsWriters.org