A rising star in neonoir, Lange follows up his 2009 novel, This Wicked World, with a sharply calibrated and affecting tale about a young Mexican beauty who will do anything to reclaim the baby daughter she left in Los Angeles.
The woman, Luz, survived a hard upbringing in Tijuana only to fall under the control of an abusive Mexican drug lord, Rolando, aka "El Principe." After going to great lengths to convince him she is devoted to him, she sneaks off with a pile of his money, killing two of his household staff with his gun. She hires Malone, an American who makes a living smuggling Mexicans across the border, to drive her to California. They are quickly pursued by Jerónimo, a one-time LA gang member whom Rolando springs from a Tijuana prison to bring back Luz, and Thacker, a corrupt U.S. Border Patrol agent. Jerónimo, a reformed soul whose wife and daughter are being held by Rolando until he returns with Luz, strikes an uneasy alliance with the slovenly, unreformed Thacker: He'll get Luz, and the border cop will get the money. Malone, who is haunted by memories of seeing his own little girl run over by a car, becomes committed to Luz. The twisting plot thickens when Rolando orders Jerónimo to bring back Luz's child as well. Unlike most such stories, this book is driven not by greed or revenge but by parenthood, and Lange doesn't subscribe to the usual moral checks and balances. In all other ways, however, he embraces classic noir in all its violence, bleakness and dark humor. He makes readers care about his flawed characters and appreciate the odds that were stacked against them by the circumstances of their upbringing.
A film waiting to happen, this book boasts memorable characters, evocative settings and a suspenseful plot.