Blackmail and buried secrets pit two brothers against each other.
In crime-ridden Belize City, Leo Varela and his brother Patrick watch police examine the body of their father’s right-hand man, the Rev, shot at close range while only half-dressed. Cut to Miami more than a decade later, where aspiring poet Leo lives with pregnant girlfriend Tessa and works as an attendant at a mental-health facility while county commissioner Patrick campaigns for mayor with trophy wife Celina. Potential disaster arrives in the rumpled person of Freddy Robinson, a shady character from the brothers’ years in Belize. Freddy firmly requests that Leo arrange a meeting between himself and elderly schizophrenic patient Herman Massini. After consulting Patrick, who presents a facade of nonchalance that he immediately sees through, Leo suggests a wait-and-see attitude. As both brothers take independent action, periodic flashbacks fill in the dark details surrounding the murder of the Rev, so called because of his status as a defrocked priest. Leo and Patrick’s father Ivan shared a small criminal empire and an affinity for young boys, a secret that Patrick discovered but never shared with his brother. Patrick also knows more about the Rev’s murder than he’s telling. While Patrick hires muscle to deal with either Freddy or Massini, Leo devises a tricky plot to sneak the old man out of the hospital. Game on.
The plot stalls at times, but Vasquez (In the Heat, 2008, etc.) writes with a winning combination of grit and heart.