The triumvirate writing as Miles Arceneaux (aka Texas authors Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis) debuts with a hurricane-ravaged thriller in the atmosphere-and-action mode of Sue Grafton’s Santa Teresa and James Lee Burke’s Cajun country.
Charlie Sweetwater, vagabond owner of a small Mexican diving resort, picks up the phone and hears his brother say “drive up here….I want you to meet somebody.” Brother Johnny runs the family’s fishing fleet, having remained on the Texas Gulf after their father’s death. Charlie arrives, but Johnny is missing at sea. Thus begins an adventure among shrimpers, fisherman and edge-of-law folks sailing around the fertile bay waters near Port Aransas, and it all plays out before, during and after a devastating hurricane called Lana. It’s 1979, and trawlers harvesting the Texas Gulf Coast’s bounty are largely crewed by ambitious and hardworking Vietnamese refugees. That’s good. What’s bad is the market’s controlled by Sea-Tex, a shadowy corporation owned by “Colonel” Nguyen Ngoc Bao, a man who has “the sort of attitude for his adopted home that a crocodile reserves for a poodle.” The storm, plus gunrunning, drug smuggling and the hardy denizens of the Shady Boat and Leisure Club, give the novel a hold-onto-your-seat cinematic narrative. Add film-ready characterizations like Llewellyn “Pinky” Cudihay (cast John Goodman, certainly), who is a corrupt state senator, and O. B. Hadnott (give Tommy Lee Jones a Stetson), a West Texas Ranger assigned to investigate the shooting of the senator’s aide, and it’s a page turner. The authors also do a commendable job with Hispanic and Vietnamese characters. There’s menacing Miguel Negron, former gangbanger, prisoner and now cook/bartender, and Marisol Cavasos, Miguel’s childhood friend and current parole officer. Then there’s beautiful Trinh An Phu, once a Saigon bar girl, who captures the taciturn Ranger’s heart. And that's not counting young Raul, who attaches himself to Tío Carlito. Fights, stabbings and gunplay carry the narrative until the good guys win out and get the girls.
An engaging crime caper. This book hits the mark.