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American Tropic [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Sanchez
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Thomas Sanchez’s American Tropic is a heart-racing ecological thriller that showcases today’s headline issues. Sanchez’s first Key West novel, Mile Zero, was hailed by The Washington Post Book World as a “holy terror of a book of immense power and passion,” acclaimed by The New York Times Book Review as “dazzling,” and lauded by Vanity Fair as “mythmaking and magisterial.” Now, Sanchez returns again to America’s famous southernmost continental point, Key West.

This exotic island city in the Florida Keys is being terrorized by horrific murders committed by a mysterious voodoo assassin. With each new kill, it becomes clear that the skeleton-clad executioner has an ecological agenda. The novel propels us through a complex maze populated by rapacious developers, ruthless scammers, and common folk engaged in heroic acts to save their community.

The characters, from the defenders of America’s only continental reef to the destroyers of marine life, are all swept up in this torrent of horrors. Everyone dreads being the killer’s next victim as the clock counts down to the end of hurricane season and the final dramatic explosion of fear and rage. 

With canny perception and striking revelations, American Tropic illuminates a world of dark desires, hidden truths, and colliding destinies.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

People say what’s on their minds in this fever-dream ecothriller, from a radio pirate who rants about the environmental destruction of the Florida Keys to a shrimp-boat captain who brags, “I’ll net turtles . . . kill turtles with my bare hands if I want.” But while everyone else argues, someone is making their points with a speargun, executing men and women for crimes against nature and attributing the deeds to a voodoo avenger called Bizango. At the forefront of the hunt are Luz, a relentless Key West police detective whose daughter is slowly dying from cancer, and Noah, the radio pirate, also an alcoholic, disbarred environmental lawyer whose marriage is failing. Sanchez (King Bongo, 2003) has an arresting voice and his own anger at the depredations of greedy developers and ignorant tourists infuses every page with a sense of near-apocalyptic doom. His characters’ on-the-nose dialogue may not work for everyone, and the identity of the killer, when revealed, doesn’t feel quite right, but that almost doesn’t matter. The author’s incandescent rage—think Carl Hiaasen channeling Edward Abbey—makes for fiery reading. --Keir Graff


""A bold eco-thriller of wild truth and poetry destined to take its place alongside The Monkey Wrench Gang."" - Philip Caputo, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Product Details

  • File Size: 1389 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400076900
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008NW6LZ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,708 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Thriller May 27, 2013
Another great book by one of my favorite authors. American Tropic is one of the most important environmental thrillers written to date. Bizango, a voodoo assassin who kills those who kill the environment, should go down as one of the iconic characters in thriller (and literary) history. All the other characters are just as multilayered, and represent some of the wildest elements of South Florida. Every time they come on the page, their thoughts, speech and actions are just gripping. I couldn't put the book down and the end was shocking! The theme of environmentalism, which is so relevant today, is brought to life in such a way that even the most apathetic towards environmental issues will be moved to action. I also loved the setting in Key West, the descriptions were so vivid. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-written thriller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, fun, engrossing May 23, 2013
Thomas Sanchez is new to me and I count that a loss. Am headed out now to find his earlier work, "Mile Zero." I lived in Key West and he described it so well that I could again smell the frangi pani and heavy, salty air. I love Key West and now I love Thomas Sanchez too. Incredible that he is not one of the descendants of those early Cubans from the 1800s and 1900s; he includes and describes those characters so well. Sanchez keeps our blood roiling by giving us a boatload of characters that are hate-able, so hate-able that we cheer when one of them gets taken down.

To top it all, he kept me guessing up to the very end. Great writing skill. Great read. Thanks Thomas! (Ariel I.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sanchez does it again! Unlike many "clever" South Florida writers, Sanchez sees beyond the easy quirkiness of Key West. Instead, with appropriate indignation, focuses on the very real dark and greedy underbelly of land "development" and environmental despoilment - of cruise ships, clogged streets, and thuderous power boat races. Murder and mayhem revolve around very real ecological villains, being eliminated by a violent vigilante in a full-body rubber skeleton suit, shooting his victims with a spear gun.
Like his masterful first Key West novel MILE ZERO, Sanchez' page-turner is character driven and populated by a gallery of the sorts of characters well-known by anyone who has ever lived in Key West: Noah Sax, who runs a pirate radio station from a boat off the coast, Luz Zamora, the black Cuban-American lesbian cop, or the local oddball known only as Hogfish, bicycling the island warning of the coming monster hurricane he calls "El Finito." Sanchez KNOWS Key West and his accuracy of locale and attention to small details is substantial. The streets and bars and landmarks are real and vivid; so much so, anyone truly familiar with Key West can, as I did, "watch" this novel like a movie, like a fast-paced, ferocious film, where, to the last frame, one can both root for the skeleton-clad villain AND the hero-cop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It’s been almost 10 years since the publication of KING BONGO, Thomas Sanchez’s last work. He has never been the most prolific of authors, having published only six novels since 1973, when the highly and still acclaimed RABBIT BOSS was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Sanchez’s latest finds him exploring a new theme in a familiar place --- Key West, the setting for 1989’s MILE ZERO --- in this novel-length but shorter work, with mixed results.
AMERICAN TROPIC is very much a character-driven work, taking a number of dissimilar individuals with tenuous associations and throwing them into the cauldron of the story. Noah is a disbarred environmental attorney whose alcoholism has cost him his career and his marriage to the lovely Zoe, who gave up her own dreams to put him through law school and who now tends a popular dive bar to help make ends meet. Noah spends his days on his boat, Noah’s Lark, operating a pirate radio station off the coast of Key West, using his talk-show call-in format under the moniker of “Truth Dog” to rail against the damage that he perceives as being done to Mile Zero and points north. Noah’s sister, Joan, is in a relationship with Luz, a Key West cop whose younger daughter is involved in a valiant if failing fight against cancer while Luz is caught up in a serial murder investigation.
A costumed apparition, modeled after a legendary voodoo figure, is engaged in a murder spree that is targeting a number of ecological offenders of both great and small magnitude, ritually killing each of them and then very publicly displaying their bodies.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMERICAN TROPIC BLAZES LIKE AN OCTOPUS ON METH! January 16, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
AMERICAN TROPIC blazed across my psyche like an octopus on meth, and I still haven't recovered. Sancherz breathes the divine fire, and - despite the wild, horrific plot with the O. Henry ending - the book has a Beaudelaire lyricism that made me think of "Les Fleurs du Mal." He lulled me by describing an arrival at an exotic location and then lured me into following the gaze of the narrator to an indescribably ghastly sight, written with stunning effect.
Sanchez keeps the disclosure of "Who done it" in agonizing suspense to the last page. While we all must occasionally put a book down and do our chores, this book pulls us away from our necessary routines as we eagerly renter the pages that shock us over and over by the escalating imagination and viciousness of the ghostly perpetrator. The people we meet, though a bit unusual, are believable, even the serial killer, once the reader thinks it through. Characters aside, the author infuses humanity into every little crustation that skitters across a scene. Through his genius words, Key West becomes a luscious, multifaceted land and sea character with the mystery of Shangri-La and the sexiness of Hedy Lamar.
I loaned the book to a friend who immediately said he wanted to visit Key West and literally started Googling travel arrangements. Think I'll tag along.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT AMERICAN AUTHOR
...that you very well may have missed. The guy is a genius with words. Only 17 reviews here for this guy. Shame on us readers. Read more
Published 11 months ago by James L. Woolridge
1.0 out of 5 stars A flat and unexciting read
This was my first introduction to Thomas Sanchez and, I'm sorry to say, will certainly be my last. "American Tropic" is filled with stiff dialogue that serves only to box... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Greg Lestikow
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but ultimately unsatisfying
An ecoterrorist, Bizango, is randomly killing individuals in Key West, all of whom are loathsome for some reason---usually having offended the environment, but not... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Stoney
American Tropic is one of the most intelligent and cool thrillers I've ever read. It is a literary thriller, different than the usual fodder. And the characters! Read more
Published 20 months ago by tbonery
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad
AMERICAN TROPIC was a good story with offensive language to the max. I have never read a novel with so many unlikable characters. Read more
Published 20 months ago by MARGARET S
2.0 out of 5 stars So Slow
It was so slow I didn't finish it. I bought it because of the location for the book but was disappointed.
Published 21 months ago by Paula N. Trehey
3.0 out of 5 stars Good capture of Key West with a healthy dose of stereotypes
Having been to Key West many times, I was happy to see a book centered in this lovely town. I'm actually not much for mysteries so perhaps that colors my review. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jm
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Mile Zero' Reimagined?
I enjoyed this book, as I usually do whenever it's a decent story involving Key West - however, it seemed like largely a rehash of his earlier novel 'Mile Zero'. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Garrett Schanck
3.0 out of 5 stars Key West Flavor without quite enough quality
I loved Sanchez's Mile Zero, so was eager to read this new installment of Key West chaos, mystery and cuban pizazz. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Kindle Addict
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More About the Author

Thomas Sanchez is a descendant of Spanish immigrants and Portuguese cattlemen dating back five generations to the 1800s California Gold Rush. Sanchez was born in Oakland Naval Hospital in 1944, days after his father was killed in the World War II Battle of Tawara. He was raised on a rural farm in California's Santa Clara Valley.

Sanchez' first novel, RABBIT BOSS, the hundred year saga of a California Indian Tribe, was begun at the age of 20 when he worked on cattle ranches in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. RABBIT BOSS was published when Sanchez was 27 and was cited by the San Francisco Chronicle as, "one of the most important books of the 20th century," by the New York Times as "A novel of epic dimensions," by Vanity Fair as "a landmark of our literature."

Throughout the 1960s in California, Sanchez witnessed and participated in many of the eras major social and political events, the strikes of the farm workers in the Central Valley, the tumultuous U.C. Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the clashes in San Francisco between anti-Vietnam War protesters and police, the counter-culture explosion of the infamous Haight-Ashbury District.

In the 1970s Sanchez was involved in the siege of Wounded Knee in the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of the infamous massacre of Sioux Indians, where Sanchez ran strategic supplies and food to Indians trapped inside the town of Wounded Knee, which had been surrounded by armed Federal forces with shoot-to-kill orders. A partial account of this event was published by Sanchez as, THE REAL COWBOYS AND INDIANS, in a commemorative American Bi-Centennial book collection with Henry Miller, whom Sanchez knew.

Sanchez next published, ZOOTSUIT MURDERS. The novel, set in the Los Angeles barrio of World War II, explored a chaotic world of anti-Communist hysteria, bizarre religious cults, tough gangs and undercover government agents. ZOOT-SUIT MURDERS was cited by the Chicago Tribune as, "a vivid tale of political intrigue by a master of pictorial detail." Following ZOOTSUIT MURDERS Sanchez was honored with a Guggenheim Award for his writings.

In the 1980s Sanchez lived in Key West and traveled from there throughout the American tropics. He was in harm's way during the Civil Wars of Guatemala and El Salvador, where he traversed both political and physical jungle landscapes with a real life cast of characters, from guerilla fighters to defrocked renegade priests, to bible toting CIA spooks and hardbitten war journalists. Much of this made its way into Sanchez's novel, MILE ZERO, about which the Los Angeles Times stated, "Sanchez forges a new world vision rich in the cultural intertextuality of Steinbeck and Cervantes, Joyce and Shakespeare."

Throughout the 1990s Sanchez lived in Paris, Provence and Mallorca, the settings for his novel, DAY OF THE BEES, about the hidden lives of a famous Spanish painter and his French mistress, a woman transformed from an artist's muse into a heroic Resistance fighter. The esteemed newspaper Le Monde declared DAY OF THE BEES, "A literary landmark, a novel of unforgettable power about love and war, art and freedom." The French Government knighted Sanchez with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for his body of work.

At the beginning of the 21st century Sanchez returned to the tropics for his novel, KING BONGO, set against the glamor and intrigue of pre-revolutionary 1950s Havana, where Cuban and American cultures collided with geo-political consequence. The Washington Post proclaimed the novel to be, "An exotic portrait of sex, violence, corruption and conspiracy in Cuba."

Thomas Sanchez's newest novel, AMERICAN TROPIC, is set in the exotic island city of Key West, where a series of murders is being committed by a mysterious assassin. The victims have something unusual in common--a reckless disregard for the natural world. Someone is literally killing the people who are killing the environment. The novel propels us through a complex maze populated by rapacious developers, ruthless scammers and common folk struggling in heroic acts for moral high ground. All of these characters, from Noah Sax, a pirate radio shock-jock crusading against the destruction of the environment, to Luz Zamora, a homicide detective and dedicated mother defending her family, are swept up in a torrent of ecological rage headed towards an explosive ending. The novel tackles many environmental issues of our day--the disappearance of America's only Continental Reef and the on-going destruction of marine life. The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Philip Caputo, has proclaimed, AMERICAN TROPIC, "a bold book of wild truth and poetry, destined to become a classic of environmental literature."

Sanchez is currently directing a feature film documentary, INTO THE LIGHT, about the legendary film director and Actors Studio icon, Jack Garfein, a philosophical warrior against religious, racial and gender bigotry who survived 11 concentration camps beginning in 1944 at the age of 13 in Auschwitz.

All the novels of Thomas Sanchez are published by Knopf/Vintage, New York.

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