Wildly improbable, out-of-control follow-up to Abella's well-received legal procedural The Killing of the Saints (1991). More a revision of his earlier novel than a sequel, Dead of Night pits Cuban-American lawyer and p.i. Charlie Morell against a gruesomely homicidal Santer°a sorcerer, Ricardo D°az, a meaner, more brutal version of Saints bad guy Ram¢n ValdÇz. While Morell is both charmed and dismayed by what he considers the superstitious Afro-Cuban faith of his parents, D°az is a true believer in palo mayombÇ, which uses repugnant human sacrifices to achieve evil ends. D°az's first victim is Armando Ponce, Morell's kindly Santer°a mentor. A threatening message, written in Ponce's blood, promises that Morell will be the next to die. Morell, who successfully defended ValdÇz in the previous book, now goes after D°az as a favor to the mysterious Mrs. de Palma, the best friend of Morell's recently deceased mother, who believes that Morell can make the wayward sorcerer (her godson) give up his evil ways. It's bad enough that D°az seems supernaturally powerful—he also has numerous friends in high places, including the estranged daughter of a US senator, a pack of Colombian drug lords, a coven of corrupt L.A. cops, and even a former Mexican president. After a hair-raising escape in the Mexican desert, Morell and a Santer°a priestess track D°az to an abandoned church in the Frogtown section of Los Angeles. Hes arrested for murder and, in a reversal of the first book,is hired by the L.A. County prosecutor to help convict D°az. The storm-tossed climax, involving ghosts, AIDS, a gun, and a gravesite, is so over-the-top that it actually works. A dark, bubbling cauldron of gross-out horror and Cuban-American folklore, stirred by a whiny, but winning, sad-sack hero who can't believe that any of this is happening to him.
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