McKinty, Adrian - 'Fifty Grand'
Cuban Detective Mercado is worried about her father. He was a mysterious figure who disappeared in her youth and his brother believes that he is now dead. Mercado wants to know for sure and to this end she requests time off to leave Havana and travel to Mexico City for a one week study request. To her amazement, the request is confirmed and once she reaches Mexico she joins a party of illegals and travels over the border, having a dangerous adventure on the way to Denver, Colorado. She now becomes Maria, the illegal Mexican cleaner and maid and uses this identity to check out some of the houses of the rich and famous, as she suspects one of them was involved in the death of her father.
She learns that there are many people living there who work in Hollywood. Tom Cruise is supposed to have a house there. Nothing seems to be very straightforward and we learn a lot about the reliance, by the wealthy people living in these fabulous homes, on the exploited illegal aliens mainly from South and Central America. There is a lot of humour, also in this book, and soon there is much discussion regarding the various stars of several recent films as Maria gets more than friendly with a bit player whom she has suspicions about. However, she has to be very careful as there is a corrupt sheriff who has doubts about her identity and keeps hassling her. She is befriended by Paco, another illegal with whom she has to share a bedroom with, but as he works on a building site he is always too exhausted for any romance.
The story moves on with a very fluid style until you just can't put it down until it finishes in a very unexpected way. The author who originated from Northern Ireland has written four previous books and I have had the pleasure of reading THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD. His style of writing is unlike any other British author that I've ever experienced, but this is to be expected as he has lived all over the world, including Colorado where this book is focused. FIFTY GRAND is a magnificent, superb, witty, almost noir style confection that I was very reluctant too finish, but it had to end. The author has a great skill in creating a believable background with the insertion of some Spanish dialogue and showing with particular references to unusual locations that he has made a lot of detailed research in the writing of this book and this is to be applauded. I would urge you to read this book as you won't be disappointed and I look forward to discovering in his next book, which country will form the background!
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Terry Halligan, England