Eddo Cortez Castillo, investigative attorney and head of Los Hierros, an elusive anti-corruption league, is determined to uncover the insidious links between the Minister for Public Security and the notorious drug cartel leader El Toro. Amato masterfully depicts life and society in Mexico City: the undercurrent of danger in a crowd, the bureaucratic entanglements of visa applications or license renewal, the highly stratified society made visible and reinforced by the wearing and display of designer clothes, the desperate poverty of the many and the eccentricities of the wealthy few.
Unlike Eddo, who was born into tremendous wealth, Luz de Maria Alba Mora is a lowly muchacha, or resident domestic, that cleans the home of the supercilious Vega family. After her mother dies, Luz's meagre income represents the sole financial support for her brother, sister and two nieces. Struggling to make ends meet and fielding off the drunken advances of "Uncle" Tio, Luz finds solace in a weekend break at the museum. Sketching on a bench, she encounters the enigmatic Eddo, and the two begin a passionate relationship.
However, Eddo's corruption investigation becomes increasingly dangerous - from a shootout at the northern town of Anahuac to chillingly tense encounters with El Toro himself. Luz becomes caught up in the spiral of violence as she is abducted and threatened with torture in a nail-biting car chase. The suspense is beautifully mantained as Eddo pursues El Toro to the island haven of Antigua and an unforgettable underwater fight scene ensues between the valiant Eddo and El Toro's sidekick, Chino.
Amato combines marvelous detail about life in Mexico City with a poignant love story between the most unlikeliest of individuals, all of which is woven seamlessly into an enthralling political drama.
Verdict: a multilayered novel of love and drama set against the intriguing backdrop of Mexico City. --Literary Fiction Review
From the Author
Our house was at the start of the school bus route goinghome. My children had a 10 minute ride. Her name was Marit and her childrenrode the same school bus as my children.
We met at the end of the school day when her chauffer-drivencar parked in front of the house as I waited by the gate for the bus to dropoff the kids. Marit got out, wearing a stylish dress, heels and ropes of goldchain, and introduced herself. They lived at the end of the bus line, sheexplained, and while she wanted her son and daughter to have the experience ofriding on a school bus, it took too long. In future her children would get offat our house and be driven home by the chauffeur.
We spoke a number of times after that, me in my jeans on thestoop and she in her designer clothes from the window of the car. When shelearned I was new to Mexico City she took it upon herself to give me a tour ofthe best shops and restaurants in our neighborhood. The children and I wereinvited to a midday meal with her husband and children. The event included atour of their house-about 15 minutes away-and a stop in the kitchen to view the5 uniformed staff and present my compliments to the cook in her white jacket.
Soon after, Marit came over for coffee before meeting thebus. Our housekeeper, a wonderful young woman whom we did not require to wear auniform, met us in the living room. I introduced them as I would any twopeople, using full names. To my surprise Marit immediately addressed thehousekeeper using a common nickname rather than the housekeeper's actual name.The grilling about work hours came next. It was an effective and not verysubtle message: the housekeeper was getting above herself using her full name,not wearing a uniform, and leaving the kitchen instead of waiting to beassigned her work.
Marit also called me the next day and took me to task fornot making the housekeeper work more hours-a day maid should show up to work at7:00 am at least. By asking the housekeeper to come at 10:00 I was onlyencouraging her to become lazy. I should note here that my husband generallyreferred to the housekeeper as the "Mexican Tornado" for her amazingwork ethic.
There were no more coffee or lunches after that but thefinal break came when Marit called to ask if, as an American, I could get hermaid a visa. The family wanted to go to Disneyworld and take their maid to lookafter the children in the evenings. The visa process took alot of time, Maritsaid. If the maid had to stand in line at the US Embassy she'd miss work.
I replied that I had no ability to obtain a visa for hermaid and I never heard from Marit again. The car no longer stopped in front ofmy house to pick up her children.
Mexico City was home to many other women like her. In an oddway they inspired me to write a book to explain what I saw. There's a castesystem in Mexico that bottles up more people than just the Mexican Tornado. Soescape it, people will mule drugs or risk an illegal crossing into the UnitedStates. Or both.
I hope you enjoy The Hidden Light of Mexico City. And I hopeit makes you think a little, too.