2 out of 4 stars
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Raoul Martez started a new job as a trash collector for Trinity Waste Management (TWM). He’s thankful for his amiable partner but loathes the upper management. They are rude to their employees, who are overworked and underpaid. Plus, he senses something shady about their behavior.
When the company’s CEO turns up dead in a trash container, CIA agent Hank Boucher uncovers an illegal network involved in trafficking stolen military weapons. But, who is the true culprit? A disgruntled employee? A jealous widow?
Jerry A. Greenberg’s Murder in the Garbage takes you deep into the heart of San Antonio, Texas—the home of the Alamo. The book is the first installment in this murder mystery series, with CIA Hank Boucher as the protagonist.
Greenberg is no novice, having written numerous books. He does an admirable job at making the plotline cohesive and free of frustrating backreads; this was a positive point for me. The story starts with young Raoul’s job search and college aspirations; afterward, it shifts to Hank Boucher’s post-retirement plans. These seemingly unrelated events create a panorama of the exposition. The mystery build-up is slow, though. I was disappointed that Hank Boucher solved the crime by engaging in long conversations with other characters while eating. His job was too easy, and he didn't struggle enough to make the reader tense.
My favorite trait is the respectful portrayal of a trash collector. As Raoul Martez discovers, the profession requires hard work and doesn’t get the reward it deserves. Greenberg even uses rubbish to initiate commentaries about social class differences. Without being rude, he makes an important point about wasting food: There are many people suffering from hunger around the world. These moments were important since they were thought-provoking.
The writing style is straightforward but often dry. My biggest dislike was the dialogues, which were too mechanical. There was little distinction between the characters’ voices and tones. As a result, they sounded like one person talking instead of many.
In addition, Greenberg depends heavily on visual descriptions, which are good most times but can be overused. For example, he mentions the height and weight of most of his characters. Yet, other sensory details were abandoned—they may have raised the story up a notch. For instance, the author missed the rotten stench of the landfill.
In the end, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I simply didn’t get the thrill I was seeking. All is not lost since this book is practically error-free and professionally edited; therefore, a lower rating is unnecessary.
The story leans towards the polite side, with limited use of profanity; therefore, I recommended it to those averse to foul language. For those hardcore mystery lovers, it may not be dynamic enough. Also, there is some stereotyping of Latinos and women, which may offend some readers. So, I would caution anyone who takes issue with these issues.
Murder in the Garbage
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