Charles O'Connell, a disgraced political consultant on the cusp of a busted marriage, and Gabriel Luna, a laborer at the end of his rope, invest their last hopes in a controversial airport project being built on purchased Indian land in New Mexico.
Construction has stalled after a bulldozer digs up a skeleton and a previously unheard-from Apache tribe claims the land is sacred ground where Geronimo is buried. The unscrupulous developer, who secretly plans on adding a casino to the project, has hired Charles as a PR man to assuage his opponents. Charles, slow to realize he is being used, must decide if the money he stands to make is worth the ethical breaches he must commit. Gabe, who has been told he has bone cancer by a post-hippie shaman who dispenses medical mushrooms, is desperate to reconnect with his teenage son, having been abandoned by his own mother when he was a boy. While waiting for his job driving a dump truck on the airport site to resume, he deals marijuana to pay his ex-wife what he owes her while promising he will reform. Boasting a nicely understated comedic tone, Santos' first novel deftly draws the reader into the machinations of its plot. Though the paths of the woebegone protagonists never cross, denying the novel some rich possibilities, the book boasts other rewarding mismatches. In its depictions of backroom dealing, it reflects the author's early experience as a political campaign worker.
A compulsively readable debut by a Texas writer who knows his New Mexico.