by Rolo Diez
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Summary: This little novel is a fun, slice-of-life mystery set in Mexico’s seedy underworld. It’s well worth a look.
Review: In Tequila Blue, Carlos “Carlito” Hernandez is a Mexico City police detective operating in a world of corruption, where nothing is quite as it seems.
As with any good mystery writer, Rolo Diez makes good use of the setting with vivid details. Consider the following passage –
“I stopped off at a taco bar and had a quick breakfast. A soup with bread and lots of chili in it – the perfect indigenous remedy to improve the way a hung-over guy sees the world, the human condition and Mondays, to help persuade him he has to go to the office – then chopped steak and several coffees” (p. 3).
The setting alone makes Tequila Blue worthwhile.
But Tequila Blue also offers the an engaging protagonist in Carlos. He’s not exactly a hero, as he operates in a seedy world filled with pornography, payoffs, prostitution, and guns.
Only a fool is completely honest in such a world, and Carlos has more than a few flaws. For one, he has two families – one with his wife and another with his mistress. Also, he makes money anyway he can. Carlos’ wife fired their maid after she discovered that Carlos was having an affair with her; now Carlos is the ex-maid’s pimp. He has a number of other, shady means of making extra money.
In spite of his flaws, Carlos is a likable rogue.
Another enjoyable aspect of the novel is Diez’s talent for penning memorable lines. For instance –
“He’s like a father to me, that’s why I hate him so much” (p. 76).
With all my suspects disappearing, my week looked as if it might turn out like that guy’s who was hanged on Monday” (p. 99).
My only complaint about the novel is that it can be confusing in places. In one scene, Carlos suffers a concussion and his thoughts are difficult to separate from reality.
At 168 pages, Tequila Blue can easily be read in a sitting. Readers looking for an entertaining mystery in an exotic setting will enjoy it.