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"Hat Dance" - The sleazy side of Acapulco

  • Oct 28, 2013
It's always a treat to come upon a new writer in the detective field, one who introduces a main character who is quite different from the usual type we read about. This new detective is the only female detective on the Acapulco police force, trying to succeed in a world normally dominated by men.

The Acapulco about which we read is not the pleasant, sunny, touristy section with all of the grand hotels and expensive restaurants. It is, rather, the Acapulco of the mean streets, with prostitutes and pimps, venal cops and suspicious military types. The city also has a glamorous female mayor who is more concerned with her own public profile than with anything else happening around her, even the deaths of innocent people.

The plot concerns bombings and deaths at several Acapulco restaurants, bombings the mayor's entourage would have the people believe were aimed solely at her, and may have been instigated by the army. Newspaper coverage goes wild, and large, boisterous crowds appear and give menacing gestures about the army. Meanwhile, our protagonist and her erstwhile partner, come to the conclusion that the bombings weren't aimed at the mayor at all, but were "messages" to pay up to a group of men who claim the money is for an "army tax".

A subplot concerns the defective's search for a missing teenage girl, because her parish priest has asked her to look into it for the sake of the girl's grandmother. That search takes the detective to some very seedy places, and she meets with several grotesque people.

The action is swift, and the plot moves along at a steady pace, keeping the reader interested in discovering what is going to happen. The ending is quite violent, and more deaths result before a solution is found.

I hope that the author gives us more novels about this intrepid detective.

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October 28, 2013
Good info to know!
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #95
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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In HAT DANCE, the second Emilia Cruz novel, Emilia will track who has gone missing from her own neighborhood and her efforts to find missing women will remain a series theme. She'll comb through the newspaper advertisements I saw too often in Mexico; colored pictures of young women with the headline DISAPPEARED.

The official Mexican government count remains elusive, but most news outlets report that at least 60,000 people have been killed or have been reported missing due to Mexico's drug violence over the past decade. While most think that the casualties are rival drug cartel members fighting each other for control of the lucrative smuggling routes, known as plazas, too many of the victims are those simply caught up in the violence. Poet Javier Sicilia brought awareness to the missing victims of Mexico's drug wars with a series of rallies and marches after the murder of his son. 

A new federal unit was set up in 2013 to investigate missing persons cases in Mexico, but all too often the families have to investigate on their own. I saw one news report that said trying to find out what has happened to a missing family member costs about $32,000 in legal fees, bribes, travel, etc. The average annual family income in Mexico is about $20,000.

Emilia's list of the missing is also a nod to the murders of over 340 women in the Cuidad Juarez area, on the US-Mexican border. More bodies are found every few months and no one has ever been held accountable. 

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