Vanilla Road


296 pages
ISBN 0-7701-0215-8






Reviewed by Ross Willmot

Ross Willmot is Executive Director of the Ontario Association for
Continuing Education.


All events in this horror-packed adventure account of four young U.S. men who go to Mexico for a holiday are claimed to be true. The author uses a pseudonym to protect himself from prosecution or revenge from members of a “Ramos” gang, who captured and tortured all the men and killed the author’s three companions. His somewhat awkward reconstruction of the thoughts, conversations, and deeds of gang members, which he could not fully know about, throws doubts on the reality of other parts of his tale. While it is true that Mexican law says you are guilty until proved innocent, it seems incredible that two of their policewomen could lure various young tourists over a period of two years, seduce, capture, and hold them for ransom with the collaboration of a doctor and various helpers throughout Mexico, including a clerk in the post office. The author’s Canadian tour to promote this book surely would be an invitation to whomever he fears to wreak vengeance for escaping across a 700-mile desert along the Vanilla Road to tell about it and them so openly. This book is an attempt at new journalism using such literary devices as noting the presence of Mexican vultures, which circle particularly bloody scenes. The story might have been more effective if the author had restricted himself to a straight journalistic narration.


Nelson, W.K., “Vanilla Road,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,