Alexander, after six mysteries set in the mythical kingdom of Luong (Kiet Goes West, etc.), moves to the ``electroplated glitz'' of Cancun to introduce ex-cop Luis Balam, a full-blooded Mayan who supports his two daughters (their mother ran off) as a tour guide, a vendor of black coral, and, occasionally, as a private eye. Here, he's been asked to investigate the case of Proctor Smith, now languishing in jail for burying a Mayan ceremonial blade in prostitute Maria Lopez--a knife that indicates that Smith is the infamous ``Gilbert,'' serial killer of prostitutes in Cancun's posh Hotel Zone. But if Smith, a missionary affiliated with Tropical Language Scholars, Inc., didn't do it, then who did? Luis would like to hang the blame on developer Raoul Estrada Estrada, the man who pulled strings and got him kicked off the force, and with the help of Maria's sister, Denise, starts digging for evidence, leading to threats, bribes, the annihilation of his black coral shop, and much scrutiny of Estrada's hotel staff--plus one more murder and a parasailing fatality. Wry commentary on personalities south of the border and, maybe, the most accurate guidebook ever to Cancun and its hustling of gringo tourists--all with a plot as lively as Mexican jumping beans and, in Luis Balam, a droll hero worthy of his Luong counterpart.