CACTUS BLOOD by Lucha Corpi


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Twenty years ago, Carlota Navarro -- escaping from the doctor who'd smuggled her into the US, used her as a cook-housekeeper, and raped her -- ran through a field newly fertilized with parathion, or devil's blood. Even though she's broken by seizures and dying now, however, she's still the number one suspect in the poisoning death of activist Sonny Mares -- one of the men who helped her in her escape and the older brother of the Oakland Police Department's liaison with the Latino community. Leo Mares's colleagues think Carlota can tell them where to find Sonny's vanished artist buddy Art Bello and also Phillipe Hazlitt, husband of the teacher's aide who befriended her back in 1969. But Leon's friend, San Jose investigator Justin Escobar, and Justin's second-sighted rookie op Gloria Damasco (Eulogy for a Brown Angel, 1992) can't believe that Carlota, who seems to be the only common denominator in the crimes, would have killed the people who gave her back her life, and together they reconstruct a tangled web of official deception, private revenge, and a staggeringly complicated frame-up. A well-nigh impenetrable mystery full of stilted dialogue, murky scene-setting, wild poetry, and furious evocations of the 1973 grape boycott and 1989 Oakland earthquake.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Arte P£blico