A fictional mélange that's part thriller and part social commentary, set against the beautiful scenic backdrop of the southwest—and it works.
Maynard begins with a timeline of 400-plus years of historical and fictional Santa Fe, New Mexico. William Becknell blazed the original ruts of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821—history. Cinco Becknell, the fifth William, is homeless on the streets of Santa Fe in current time—fiction. He wakes up in El Paso and has no memory of who he is or why he's there. He uses a bus ticket to Santa Fe from his shirt pocket to illuminate the flashbacks he's having of torture, pain and the old scars on his body. Little Jimmy befriends him on the streets and teaches the tricks of survival—how to get food, where to sleep, how to move through the city like a ghost. Jimmy names him Stick, the only name Cinco knows, and they both run from two psychopaths who need to silence Jimmy, who saw them brutally dispose of a woman in the desert night. There's also another person shadowing Cinco's movements—an elegant, mysterious, lethal black woman who calls him Pyat and is a connection to some dark pieces of a Russian memory. A lovely woman from Cinco’s teenage past, Elena, sister of one of three boys whose photograph hangs in her gallery, begins to see the Cinco she knew from the photo in this beaten shadow of a stick man, and a love story sneaks into the action.
Maynard is a consummate storyteller, and the thriller elements run parallel to the tough life of the homeless on the streets of The City Different.