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McKinty, Adrian - 'Fifty Grand'
Paperback: 320 pages (July 2009) Publisher: Serpent's Tail ISBN: 1846687233

I was almost disappointed when I started reading this book, as I expected a greater Cuban influence, but it was mostly set in Colorado, and the link to Cuba not as strong as I was expecting. However, it does feature a Cuban detective, Mercado, on the trial of her father's killers. She fools her boss in Cuba into thinking she is just visiting Mexico for a week, for an interview. But in fact, she enters the USA illegally from Mexico, makes it to Colorado to where her father was recently killed in a hit and run accident. There, she plans to find out who did it within a week, so she can make it back to Cuba without being missed. In fact, the book starts as she appears to be dealing out her revenge to the as yet unidentified culprit.

While in Colorado, she takes on the persona of an illegal Mexican, and works as a maid, so that she can (conveniently) gain access to the houses of some of the Hollywood stars who have settled there, some of whom are suspects. She makes friends with 'Paco' an apparently genuine Mexican immigrant whom she met when crossing the border. She gradually starts to eliminate possible suspects but tucked away in the background is the mystery of why her father was in the USA in the first place, and why he apparently abandoned his family in Cuba, all those years ago. Of course, nothing is as it seems and when she eventually returns home she finds out the last piece of the truth about her father.

Mercado is a tough, resourceful heroine who apparently manages the impossible feat of finding out who killed her father in just one week, and making it back to Cuba in the nick of time, avoiding any consequences of her disappearance on her family. The descriptions of life for Mexican immigrants working as maids just seemed a little too good to be true, as it seems to be a fairly easy life, with plenty of time left over for detective work. The detective work itself isn't too taxing, as there are not that many suspects, and it doesn't seem to hard to narrow it down. Conveniently, she also has ready access to a large selection of clothes left behind by a previous maid, who recently left for a better life elsewhere, enabling her to change her appearance when necessary, and is able to buy a gun when she needs one. But I liked the style of the book, the almost poetic language used in places, the determination of the heroine, and the descriptions of the growing friendship between Mercado and Paco. By about halfway through I was hooked on the story, hoping my train would be delayed so I could just read a bit more. That has to be a recommendation doesn't it?

Read another review of FIFTY GRAND.

Michelle Peckham, England
July 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 16/07/2010 19:30