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by Gary Alexander
Doubleday, January 1993
306 pages
$out of print
ISBN: 0385468954

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Luis Balam is a full-blooded Mayan in Yucatan who is working as a tour guide, tourist jewelry shop owner and part-time detective to make ends meet and support his two teenaged daughters. At one time he was a traffic cop who lost his job for political reasons.

There have been several murders of young women in Cancun which are having a negative impact on the tourist business. The media has nicknamed the perpetrator "Gilbert" after the devastating hurricane in 1988. Gilbert has been caught leaving the scene of the latest murder with the murder weapon, a Mayan sacrificial flint knife, in hand. Luis has been approached by a lawyer that he sometimes works for named Ricardo Rodriguez ("Ricky") who is serving as the defense attorney for Gilbert, whose real name is Proctor Smith. Smith is a missionary working for Tropical Language Scholars, spreading the word at the local hotels.

Luis feels certain that the murderer is a local developer and that the knife used for the killing is not a relic, but a fake. With the help of the latest victim's sister, Denise, Luis goes into a full-scale investigation.

The locale is depicted in a realistic way, and the prejudice against the Indians is also bought out. I wish there had been more concentration on the Mayan culture and mores and less on the murder plot, which was average. The book is lightly laced with humor that creeps up on you by surprise.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, August 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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