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South of the Border Noir   Leave a comment

The Black Minutes by Martin Solares is a two-tiered crime novel held together by in-
teresting characters and captivating murders over a 20-year time span. The writing is
icing. Solares creates easy to envision situations in a fast-paced style. The only problems
occur in the transitions from reality to dreams and the number of personalities filling the
pages.

Thankfully, Solares includes a three-page Cast of Characters to help keep track of who’s
who. Most are corrupt law enforcement, politicians, clergy, and businessmen; but not
everyone is a bad guy. While there may not be any white knights, there are a few gray
ones. The story begins with the murder of a young journalist investigating a serial kill-
ing spree that took place 20 years ago in his town of Paracuan, a Mexican port and home
of a drug cartel. Ramon Cabrera is the honest police investigator who is removed from the
case shortly after he connects a few dots. Cabrera establishes a relationship between the
journalist’s death, the past murders and a scrupulous detective, Vincente Rangel, who
led the investigation two decades ago. This is where it gets fun.

Solares incorporates different narrators, while maintaining his role as storyteller. Certain
chapters are identified as “testimony” wherein the first person voice of one of the characters
tells his version before the writing reverts to third person. The majority of the book tracks
Rangel’s investigation, followed closely by Cabrera’s. Several surprises surface that make
the past more closely linked than one can imagine.

The Black Minutes

Four Bookmarks
Black Cat, 2010
436 pages

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