The baddest gangster in Miami needs a simple auto shop owner’s help in Goyanes’ debut.
Jose Castillo restores old cars and moonlights as a private eye, solving mostly personal injury and divorce cases, nothing that should call too much attention to himself. So when the wife of the city’s biggest drug dealer walks through his door and tells him her husband needs his expertise, Jose anticipates trouble, as does the reader. As it turns out, Jose has a personal connection to their problem: The gangster, Frank Santana, needs the Castillo family’s signatures on papers to purchase a plot of land, and he could also use Jose’s discretion with a more scandalous issue. Someone is threatening to post nude pictures of Frank’s wife online. Jose agrees to help but not before he learns that he must either tangle with his own estranged uncle, Col. Milton Castillo, or cross one of the most dangerous and influential men in Miami. He opts to help the gangster and launches an investigation of the Santanas, his uncle, his former junkie cousin and others. His search reveals a network of people, stories and Cuban-American cultural themes. Goyanes’ writing is energetic and full of creative descriptions. The author allows his characters the room to interact naturally, to joke around with one another. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s easy to admire the spirit and humor of the book, even when the writing is overdone. The author skillfully fits together his plot points, although occasionally he introduces important details too late. For example, the reader soon understands that Jose can interpret subtle changes in body language, but not until the end of the book do we learn that Jose studied psychology in college. It’s a minor point, but this delayed delivery of information applies to many scenes.
May appeal to readers who are interested in Latin American culture in the U.S. or those who like a good, quick story about wild women (good and bad) and the men who love them.