Saturday, February 07, 2009
Hardboiled in Belize
In the Heat, by Ian Vasquez, reads like the start of a series (which it is). Miles Young is a Belizean boxer at the end of his career, looking for one more fight and some other way to make a living after that. His wife has left him with a young daughter to take care of. A character right out of California noir hires him to look for her 17-year-old daughter, who has run away with her boyfriend and a briefcase full of money that her mother was holding for a drug dealer. Much of the dialogue has a George Pelecanos ring--telegraphic and vernacular language, often leaving out articles and noun-subjects, and the deal-gone-wrong, the population of wasters and low-lifes, and the element of revenge that develops also have a Pelecanos-esque quality. Otherwise, the novel resembles a Ross McDonald novel that the mother-employer might have stepped out of, but in a new setting: Belize is rendered in detail without any travelogue-type writing. In the Heat is interesting and enjoyable, without quite rising to the noir heights of some retro-noir writers like Sean Doolittle or Charlie Huston or Adrian McKinty, at least with this first effort--but the characters are appealing, the milieu unusual and interesting, and the story flows easily and naturally.