A book such as this memoir of Dan “Tito” Davis can boggle the mind – and often jar credibility – unless there is a tie-in to a professional writer who can bring an extraordinary life journey into the realm of strong literature. Peter Conti, the ‘author,’ opens this fascinatingly explosive book with an author’s note that lends even more credence to the tale being launched. Offering his friendship with Dan who tells us the Tito is ‘a gifted storyteller but had trouble putting in on the page,’ Peter fills in the gaps.
To the body of the book Peter adds the missing background – ‘Tito worked as a jockey in high school, was in the ephedrine business while at University of Nevada- Las Vegas with both Lilly Pharmaceuticals and the Banditos Motorcycle Club earning $200,000 a week’ – and it gets even more pungent from there!
And then the adventure begins, written with gusto and finesse, as the Prologue suggests – ‘I stood on the platform of Chihuahua Train Station, only a few miles from the Texas border, waiting for the Tequila Express. It was already fifty-five minutes late. The sun was burning a hole in my baseball cap, and my T-shirt was soaked with sweat even though it was only 7:15 a.m. and still spring, technically. At five foot ten, I towered over most of the others, but no one seemed to give a damn that I was there. I avoided eye contact, which wasn’t difficult, since most of my travelling companions seemed to be sleeping standing up…For the first time in my life I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I just wanted to blend in…’
With that picture-true image of Tito the memoir opens, and Peter has provided an unexpectedly brief overview of the life opus that follows: ‘Dan "Tito" Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that's so small everyone knows their neighbor's cat's name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week. After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a Medellin cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai's madness, and much more. Tito didn’t have a mega-mansion filled with pretty girls and expensive cars. He survived in the Third World facing adversity at every turn. Millions of dollars came and went as Tito stayed one step ahead of the Feds and the Federales.’
But you need to read this book for yourself. This is one exciting book, well worth reading again, and demonstrates that bump in reality that one adventuresome man made. Fascinating, educational (!), and involving, this is a cinematic trip for lovers of wild action well written. Recommended. Grady Harp, September 19