Monday, January 6, 2014

Day of the Dead by Andi Marquette



Golden Crown Literary Award & Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Author of Faithful Service, Silent Hearts, Tactical Pursuit & the upcoming, Rebound

Book: Day of the Dead
Author: Andi Marquette
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises

Day of the Dead is the fourth installment of Andi Marquette’s New Mexico series, featuring memorable lead characters, Professor K.C. Fontero, and her buddy, Detective Chris Gutierrez. I first fell in love with these characters in Land of Entrapment, the series keystone, and they have become loyal, old friends who never disappoint. The series is set against the backdrop of the sweeping New Mexico landscape, rich with picturesque images and South of the Border influences that transport the reader effortlessly. Ms. Marquette is a master of scene, and I can almost taste the green chile and feel the arid climate around me.

I've spent a lot of time talking with other authors about “buddy novels”, and this series is an example of that genre at it’s very best. Each story features and alternates between K.C. or Chris as the lead, with the other character filling in the blanks through friendship and professional expertise. Add into the mix K.C.’s delightful, free-spirited partner, Sage, and Chris’s new love, the beautiful, whip-smart attorney, Dayna, and you have a solid ensemble cast.

I love strong, capable female characters—and readers out there, let me assure you that women rule these novels—the formula works.

This time around, Detective Chris Gutierrez has the lead and her hands are full. The story opens with Chris and her detective partner, Dale Harper, on the scene of a grisly murder. The murder scene shows signs of possible gang connections, and then there’s the killer’s unique calling card. The detective’s first task is to figure out whether the crime is the result of the victim’s gang or drug affiliations, or something deeper. Evidence soon indicates that the victim was involved in human trafficking across the Mexican border.

This isn’t a police procedural and I don’t think Ms. Marquette intends it to be. She doesn’t try to bog us down with needless jargon or use inaccurate depictions that can make law enforcement types cringe. That said, she incorporates her knowledge of the subject matter and careful research to tell a tight, interesting story. What this career cop enjoys about the story is the way she humanizes the detectives. Too often police characters are depicted as either super-human crime-fighters or bumbling idiots, and of course, neither cliché is accurate.

Chris and Harper make a fantastic odd couple in the good cop/bad cop tradition of police stories. On the surface, Harper is the textbook white male, ignorant to other ethnic origins and non-white cultures. Chris is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and not just a female detective, but a lesbian. Their pairing makes them a great crime-fighting team, and more than that, it requires their characters to challenge their own internal belief systems. Their strength is the way they play off each other to solve cases as their banter entertains us along the way.

Chris follows the trail from Albuquerque to El Paso. But, fear makes folks tight-lipped in immigrant communities and Chris must use every professional and personal connection to gather information bit by bit. To make matters worse, an anti-immigrant blogger is hell bent on twisting the truth about the Albuquerque PD, painting them as soft on crime and even corrupt. Chris now fears he’ll seize on her personal relationship with Dayna to add a new layer of hate to his commentary. She’s being squeezed from all sides, trying to balance her duty as a cop with the gray areas of the underground immigrant world, while struggling to keep her family and friends from becoming collateral damage of the blogger.

Author, Andi Marquette
The storytelling in Day of the Dead is vintage Andi Marquette. Her understanding of the culture and sensitivity weave a careful tapestry of nuance throughout the book. What I most love as a cop of twenty years is the message so very often lost in this black and white, polarized world of ours. While murder is murder, and right and wrong are easy to distinguish, people touched by the events are humans with faults. Ms. Marquette is careful to approach the subject of immigration with a light touch, understanding that the gray areas are many and vast. Don’t worry, you’ll find no preaching here—just a well-told mystery that will keep you turning the page, while you catch up with the rich characters we’ve all grown to love.

Day of the Dead is another winner from talented author, Andi Marquette. I give it a solid thumbs up, so go out and grab a copy, and settle in for a great ride.

1 comment:

  1. Great job, LM! The New Mexico series was/is part of my learning. Andi writes wonderfully with an economy of words. The latest is on my Must read pile.