Created by Alex Abella
An oddly compelling detective novel, with a hint of the supernatural, reminiscent of William Hjortberg's Fallen Angel, although nowhere near as extreme. Once a golden boy, a Cuban immigrant with a firm grab of the American Dream, an Ivy League education, a thriving law practice, and a wife and child, CHARLIE (CARLOS) MORRELL now has a mind-numbing, thankless job as a court-appointed investigator for the Los Angeles criminal justice system, thanks to a scandal involving a female murder suspect that cost him his practice and his marriage.
Cynical, disillusioned, and still guilt-ridden over the death of his father, Charlie is drawn deeper and deeper into the defense of two expatriate Cubans accused of a botched armed robbery that ended in a massacre. And then things turn weird, as its revealed the two suspects are followers of Santéria, and Charlie's long-dead dad startsmaking cameos. Like it or not, the thoroughly-Americanized Charlie must face his Cuban past, which is haunting him both figuratively and literally.
An excellent novel. Too bad the conclusion makes a sequel unlikely, because, haunted or not, Charlie's an intriguing character, one of the few Cuban-born PIs around, and his insights into Cuban culture are fascinating. And, damn it, the story's good, too.
So, what did I know? In 1998, Charlie returned in Dead of Night, and then in 2000 with Final Acts. Following the events detailed in The Killing of the Saints, Charlie's gained a reputation of being something of a cult expert. Final Acts sees Charlies teaming up with Rita Carr, a sexy Mexican/American lawyer to clear his name, when he's accused of murder. Eventually, Charlie is forced to return to his native Cuba.
Cuban-born and living currently in Los Angeles himself, author Abella has worked as a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, a foreign correspondent for The Pacifica News and Time, and as a producer for television news.