If you’re looking for a hard-hitting crime novel then Don’t Send Flowers by Martín Solares is the book for you. Published through Grove Press in March this year, this is a book which shows the reality of living with drug cartels and life in northern Mexico.
When the seventeen year old daughter of a wealthy La Eternidad businessman goes missing, presumed kidnapped by a cartel, we meet ex policeman Carlos Treviño. He’s been recommended as the one non corrupt person who just might be able to track the girl down and bring her home safely.
We soon learn that the city has been overrun with corruption at all levels and drugs gangs are fighting one another to take complete control of the area, on the Gulf of Mexico, close to the US border. No one is immune from the hands of the cartels, including the police force who are heavily in the hands of the violent gangs. Even their uniforms, guns, and vehicles are funded by the cartels.
As the story unfolds we learn more about Treviño and his relationship with his old boss, La Eternidad’s chief of police, Commander Margarito Gonzalez. Gonzalez is as corrupt as they come but his days are numbered and he is keen to settle an old score with Treviño while he can.
Don’t Send Flowers weaves between these two central characters as one tries to uncover the truth and find the missing girl, whilst the other is keen to stop him at all costs. The first part of the book concentrates on Treviño and his story, whilst the second part gives us the back story to Gonzalez and sees the two halves come together.
I did find the story difficult to get into to start with, but once I was a few chapters in I was determined to find out why the girl had been kidnapped and whether she would be returned alive. The book also makes you realise what living in constant threat of being shot or disappearing would be like. In this area you aren’t even safe to take a bus ride. Even though Gonzalez is a bit of a monster, as the plot-line unfolds you do feel a certain sympathy for his situation. I don’t want to reveal more details as there are a number of twists and turns as the story develops.
Definitely worth a read.
disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review