A potent, powerful and timely thriller about migrants, drug lords and gang warfare set on the US/Mexican border by prize-winning novelist, Marcus Sedgwick.
Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez – twenty metres outside town lies a fence – and beyond it – America – the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he’s been working for. He’s dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he’s on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they’re as good as dead. Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) – she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.
Timely though this may be, especially given the current situation in Mexico and the US and the border regions, I have to say I would be hard pressed to call Saint Death a thriller. The concept was fascinating – the down and dirty of life with narcos, gangs, corrupt police and a desperation to do anything to cross the border in search of a new life. Unfortunately, I felt it just didn’t live up to what it could have been.
Saint Death certainly portrayed the stark, dangerous life of the most desperate people trying to scrape a living on the fringes of society in the border towns of Mexico. There is a constant feeling of threat and poverty, of desperation and a willingness to do whatever they have to to reach America. The atmosphere in the book is heavy and the mood throughout is heavy.
Unfortunately, I just felt this heaviness bogged the story down. It was slow moving, and for a book described as something of a thriller it was most definitely hard going. It most definitely offered promise but just didn’t deliver for me – what could have been gritty and breathless ended up being sluggish and predictable.