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Do They Know I'm Running?
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Do They Know I'm Running?

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  122 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
From acclaimed author David Corbett, a stunning and suspenseful novel of a life without loyalties and the borders inside ourselves.

Roque Montalvo is wise beyond his eighteen years. Orphaned at birth, a gifted musician, he’s stuck in a California backwater, helping his Salvadoran aunt care for his damaged brother, an ex-marine badly wounded in Iraq. When immigration agents
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 2010)
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Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, c

From acclaimed author David Corbett, a stunning and suspenseful novel of a life without loyalties and the borders inside ourselves.

Roque Montalvo is wise beyond his eighteen years. Orphaned at birth, a gifted musician, he’s stuck in a California backwater, helping his Salvadoran aunt care for his damaged brother, an ex-marine badly wounded in Iraq. When immigration agents arrest his uncle, the family has nowhere else to turn. Roque, badgered by his street-hardened cousin,
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
Corbett, David. DO THEY KNOW I’M RUNNING. (2010). ****. I think that it’s a shame that this novel came out as a trade paperback original. It might have gotten more notice as a harcover. Aside from that, though, you have to look at the blurbs and their authors to see what might be in store for you. There’s a blurb on the front by George Pelecanos. Pelecanos likes books with lots of music references in them, and knows Washington well. He likens the author to the natural extension of Robert Stone a ...more
James Thane
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent novel--very well written with memorable characters and a gripping tale of human trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. The story focuses on an extended family of immigrants, some of whom are legally in the U.S. and others of whom are not.

The central character is Roque Montalvo, a talented young musician. The family is living a hard-scabble existence in California when Roque's uncle is arrested by immigration agents and deported. This throws the family into crisis and Roq
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: desperados with a flare for flamenco
Shelves: 2012
I love the title of this book.

The story handles some heavies like human trafficking, Iraq war veterans, women's rights, Palestine and loyalty. And really that's not all, it hovers dangerously close to overwhelming. It is very detailed and complex the events that happen in this book, one has to think to keep track as deals are made and trusts broken. Luckily the characters are well depicted and you can come to empathize with their situations. Also, there's a San Francisco angle, and well, who doe
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Corbett provides us with an entertainment in Do They Know I’m Running, if you can call something so mired in grim zeitgeist politics entertaining. Combining the social novel, political thriller, docufiction (its fiction from the authors mind, but in many ways it is as “true” as any documentary), the betrayals of noir, and a road novel from hell. This novel dramatizes the nest of scorpions (literally at one point) that human trafficking in Central America has become after the drug gangs gained co ...more
Katy Pye
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone over 16 who likes dark crime-fiction and solid storytelling
Shelves: favorites
Do They Know I'm Running was my first D.C. read. It came out of a challenge during David's class on character. I wimp-out during violent scenes. David's suggestion: fear means we have something to look at. Instead of closing your eyes when you hit the fear, keep them open and keep going. I did. I don't regret it. Do They Know I'm Running embodies just that.

This powerful and beautifully-crafted story rides the main character, Rogue, deep into the underbelly of a drug-smuggling mafia that is alive
Mar 13, 2010 is currently reading it
I went to a reading at Third Place Books for the author. Since there were only four people were there. Mr. Corbett was very gracious and answered a dozen questions I had about how he approached his work. Intrigued, I bought this book even though I'm on a strict 'library only' budget. I've just started it but am really blown away by his character development. He's been compared to Graham Greene, one of my favorite authors, and I'm not surprised. Will report back when I finish.
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not my usual kind of read, but I met the author at a writer's workshop in Guatemala and had to support such a great talent. Now I'll go back and read his earlier work and wait patiently for the next book.
Avra Fox
Sep 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well written, tense, sad, scary, exciting, Dan Corbett's the real deal. So glad to know there's another one out there.
Michael Pronko
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great characters, a long but gripping storyline, and excellent atmospherics make for a very compelling novel. It's great to get into the situation quickly and fully and to have characters that stand out as complex, even if stuck inside the simplest and grimmest of situations. Some of the scenes did not connect completely for me, but that's a small quibble when each of the scenes are intense.
Tim Freeman
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Liked it, although at first I was somewhat leery and I still have one or two issues with it. I felt the whole Hispanic violent sub-culture angle was overplayed - I certainly won't be booking any scenic tours through Mexico & central America anytime soon based on this book, that's for sure. I also felt initially that the characters seemed a bit thin and also somewhat stereotypical. However they did fill out as the book progressed and to be fair this is a crime drama genre novel albeit with an ...more
Jonathan Anderson
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
By the time I reached the last thirty or so pages of this book, I had to remind myself that if I read any longer, I was going to start missing deadlines and I was going to cause more trouble at my job than I wanted. It was still really tempting though. The plot is so gripping and suspenseful, and the characters were so compelling. I struggled with Roque beyond I think what you're supposed to feel in terms of frustration with him at the beginning, but Corbett redeems him by the end. The character ...more
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Finally! This took me forever.. more just life business than problems with the book.

There was so much going on in this book. I was trying to imagine how they would make a movie from it and kept shaking my head. It's violent and some scenes turned my stomach but I thought it was a strong story(stories).

The main story revolves around family members trying to get an older uncle, who was deported from the US, out of El Salvador. You have the drug cartel, Mexican criminals trying to stop them as th
Sam Reaves
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's hard to classify what David Corbett writes-- the term 'crime novel' doesn't do his books justice. Blood of Paradise took on the dubious achievements of U.S. policy in El Salvador; this novel explores similar territory, recounting how a young Salvadoran-American, through family obligations, becomes entangled in the murky world of immigrant smuggling. Central America is a region in crisis, and David Corbett is writing cutting-edge fiction about it.
Jun 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
This was one of Elaine Petrocelli's picks, I'm beginning to wonder about Elaine...A winning young man in a losing situation in life is charged with saving his uncle from his illegal immigration deportation to South America. That's just the beginning, there are gangs in the U.S. & below the border, brutality beyond description and sadly misused army veterans from the Iraq War and on and on. I had to put the book down, too many burdens and not enough light to make me care.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Gritty but ultimately so-so story about a young Latino musician who tries to smuggle his illegal-immigrant uncle from El Salvador back to the US. While that would be enough to carry the book, the author adds several sub plots, including his ex-soldier brother suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and double-crossing drug lords. And he must also smuggle a Palestinian ex-soldier of dubious character as well as escort a drug lord's mole (with whom he falls in love, of course).
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Stopped on page 83. Roque (rhymes with O.J.) is 18 and lives with his aunt, aunt’s boyfriend and his shell-shocked, pill popping Iraqi veteran older brother Godo. Roque is a talented musician and Godot has feelings of resentment towards him because of his lack of talent and the state he is in due to Iraq. The writing is good and the story is not a light and fluffy read.
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sharon by: Jason Hafer
This was another very good book with substance that was recommended to me by Jason Hafer. Written in the noir tradition, and handling a difficult topic that faces the US today, it is gripping, emotional, suspenseful and thought provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to discussing it.
Jodi Mae
This was a well written book, with well developed characters and a colorful, honest story about illegal immigration, family, ties that bind, poverty, survival and loss. I hope to pick it up again to read sometime; it was a heavy story that I just was not up to reading at the current moment.
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Thought this take on human trafficking & Roque Montalvo, a young musician, would grab me but it came off as a bit preachy. The author was a detective once but his attempt to bring a real-life vibe to the story comes off as strained at best, trying too hard to convince.
Joe Boland
May 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Returned to library overdue, half-read.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it liked it
If you want a beach or plane read, but don't want something terribly trashy, pick up this book. Part of it is set in the Bay Area, which made this more interesting for me to read.
Nathaniel Winters
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Well written story about a California family involved with Central American gangsters. It is hard read parts of the book due to its brutality and the cynicism it shows for society.
May 06, 2015 rated it did not like it

This book tries to be ambitious on so many levels and falls flat on them all.

I love how the author has a "dossier" at the end in an attempt to explain himself. What a joke.
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, unfinished
Tight action, strong characters, interesting glimpse into a life completely unfamiliar to me. But it gets too intense and I can't continue reading.
rated it did not like it
Sep 17, 2010
Michael Sharov
rated it liked it
Jul 30, 2015
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Apr 10, 2011
Paul Wilson
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Jul 09, 2012
Lorraine Price
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Jun 27, 2010
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David Corbett is the author of four novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running (Spinetingler Award, Best Novel—Rising Star Category 2011).

David’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, with two stories selected for Best Amer
More about David Corbett...