Brackmann (Rock Paper Tiger, 2010) returns with a thriller set in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta.
Michelle, who has lost both her husband and her financial foothold, meets a handsome stranger, Daniel, while she’s on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. But when that stranger turns out not to be the man he seems to be, Michelle finds herself stuck in a terrible state of déjà vu: Her late husband, Tom, left her deep in debt and wondering how she could have been married to a man who could sustain so many lies. After two men break into Michelle’s hotel room and beat Daniel, sending him to the hospital, Michelle discovers their phones have been switched. She tracks Daniel after finding his friends at their local hangout and stumbles into a frightening situation that Daniel attributes to his friend Gary’s odd sense of humor. When Michelle attempts to leave Mexico behind and return to California and what remains of her life, she finds herself in a Mexican jail on a trumped-up charge of drug possession. Soon, Michelle finds that few in the expatriate community of Puerto Vallarta are really who or what they have pretended to be, and her world has now been diminished to a single objective: Get out of Mexico alive. Brackmann paints Michelle as a woman who has spent most of her life taking Pilates classes and decorating her upper middleclass home only to find that her husband was a complete fake. Unable to see much of a future for herself, she’s suddenly thrust into a world where brutal drug dealers rule and fear is her everyday companion. Caught between two men and unsure which one is the bad guy and which one is the good guy, or even if there is a good guy, the author offers a darkly plausible plot that might make readers think twice about making casual acquaintances on holidays.
Brackmann strikes exactly the right mood in this frantic look at an ordinary woman who can’t seem to claw her way out of the mess in which she’s managed to land.