3 out of 4 stars
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Welcome to Venezuela! Antonio Gonzales, a fisherman from Punta Tigrillo, a remote village, is found dead. Since the area is a hot spot for drug transactions, the police suspect that cocaine is the motive and arrest Tim Billings, a gringo with a troubled life. Martin Billings, Tim’s brother, is a former Navy SEAL who owns a freighter in Trinidad. He is a man of many talents, and he is willing to do anything to help his little brother. The only thing he can do is finding the actual killer as soon as possible. That is not an easy task because the hero discovers a lot of bag guys. There are many suspects, and he also questions his allies. Maggie, his former girlfriend, would do anything for Tim. But Veronica Lopez, a gorgeous lawyer who seems to know everything, is another mystery to be solved.
The story was told from Martin’s point of view, and I enjoyed his funny retorts. The writing style was engaging and full of Spanish terms that lent authenticity and local color. The characters were charismatic and relatable. I liked how the author described the relationship between Martin and Maggie because it showed a lot of information about the protagonists. Maggie was laid-back and wanted to keep their relation casual, without any labels. She enjoyed her freedom and loved sailing through life. On the other hand, Martin had a strong sense of duty and order instilled by his military training.
The book painted a very realistic image of Venezuela. I loved discovering the beauty of the Mochima National Park, the strong sense of family of the locals, and the delicious food. However, Ed Teja also revealed discrimination, corruption, and police abuse. The author introduced a violent world where the drug lords were untouchable, while the local police had a practical approach. They didn’t have absurd ideas like ending the drug business or conducting murder investigations. The officers only wanted to look good in the eyes of their boss and to please the population.
The novel tackled some important environmental issues like trashing the beaches and polluting the waters. The culprits were the tourists and the locals because of the lack of infrastructure and poor education. Also, big corporations did a little greenwashing by offering donations for protecting the habitat just for PR benefits. However, nobody was really interested in saving the area.
The only thing I mildly disliked about the book was the fact that sometimes the story was progressing slowly. The editing needs improvement because I found more than ten errors, mostly spaces around the special characters. In consequence, I had to drop a star.
Under Low Skies by Ed Teja gets three out of four stars for all the reasons mentioned above. The book was very engaging, and professional editing should fix the problems. Readers that want to know more about Venezuela and South America will be delighted. Also, the book is appealing to eco-conscious people or boats and sailing enthusiasts.
Under Low Skies
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