A tense and intense novel that culminates in outlandish violence.
The narrative unfolds almost cinematically—think Quentin Tarantino with a dash of Key Largo and Touch of Evil. Visiting from Spain, Joanes, a talented engineer who never quite made it big professionally, is attending the second wedding of his overbearing father-in-law, along with his wife and daughter, at a Mexican resort, and a hurricane is about to break. Delayed by an unusual road accident, he sends his family to an evacuation hotel in Valladolid to be safe. Joanes is a bit nervous—not because of the impending storm but rather because he’s awaiting an important phone call that might help rescue his ailing air conditioning contracting business. While driving to Valladolid to catch up with his wife and daughter, he meets his old professor as well as the professor’s infirm wife along the side of the road. They had been put out of a bus that was moving away from the hurricane, and as usual with the professor, the story of how he got in this sorry state of affairs is both murky and ominous. The professor is domineering, contemptuous, and a bit sinister, and it turns out Joanes has long had a grudge against him, for he holds the professor responsible for his not having gotten a job with a prestigious company upon his graduation from university. Then begins a terrific ride, both literally and metaphorically, as the three seek shelter from the hurricane. Joanes, the professor, and the professor’s wife eventually try to settle into a run-down workman’s shed for the night, though they’re interrupted by a machete-wielding Mexican with a chimpanzee who is also seeking shelter. Suffice it to say that the machete, the chimpanzee, and a satellite phone with a dying battery serve as artifacts that play a significant role in the edgy uncertainty that threatens to explode—as eventually, and inevitably, it does.
A terrific, anxious, and disturbing read.