From Publishers Weekly
For 20 years, Riley James has been navigating the waters and canals of Belize as a smuggler for the powerful Monsanto brothers, Carlo and Israel, while dreaming of a different life in this engaging stand-alone from Shamus Award–winner Vasquez (Lonesome Point). Now, after one last run for the Monsantos, Riley plans to go into business with longtime friend Harvey Longsworth as co-owner of Lindy's, a Belize City bar, and marry his American girlfriend, Candice--but a simple car accident leads to rapidly escalating trouble. The tension rises as more and more players--corrupt government officials, Mexican drug soldiers, DEA agents--enter the picture. Nimbly keeping a step ahead of traps and betrayals, Riley improvises surprises of his own in increasingly violent confrontations. Vasquez has crafted a crime novel that unfolds like a Greek tragedy with his flawed, unbowed hero bravely facing everything fate throws at him. (Dec.)
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Vasquez’s first novel, In the Heat (2009), set in Belize, fit comfortably within the hard-boiled-detective tradition, but he followed it with a classic noir, Lonesome Point (2009), set in Florida. This time he’s wearing black again, but he returns to Belize. Riley James was “an ordinary guy with a little street in him . . . who got himself into a scrape.” If that sounds like an archetypal description of the noir hero, it is; Riley is yet another likable, fairly smart guy who thinks he can outsmart the inevitable. If he was living in a caper novel, that might be true, but in noir, escape either comes at exorbitant cost or doesn’t come at all. Riley is trying to go straight as a Belize bar owner, but a freak car accident draws him back into the drug-running world and leads to him speaking the words you never want to hear from someone you like: “If I can just do one last job.” Vasquez sticks closely to noir formula, but he plays all the notes with feeling, and the Belize backdrop provides one of the best noir landscapes since Vicki Hendricks turned up the steam at a laundromat (Miami Purity, 1995). --Bill Ott