4 out of 4 stars
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Reporter Alma Jaramillo is caught in an intricate web of deceit when starlet Jessica Maria is kidnapped and held for ransom. During the 7 days of negotiation, Alma discovers how murder, corruption, and cover-ups by elected officials have impacted her family directly. Her continued involvement threatens the safety of her parents and 8-year-old child.
Love in Fire and Blood by S.B. Urquidi has an underlying feeling of being a part, but not quite fully immersed in Mexican culture. Alma Jaramillo is an incredibly complex character. Having repatriated back to Mexico, she is learning that she is truly not one or the other, neither Mexican nor American. This juxtaposition has made the transition difficult for her personally but added a sense of realism to the book. The descriptions of her physical environment, through the eyes of a foreigner, yet not quite a foreigner, are detailed. Who has not noticed the rebar sticking out of the roofs topped with glass Coke bottles when traveling through Mexico and wondered about it?
I was delighted to find that one of my favorite books, The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, is mentioned as sort of a reference to the intricacies of Mexican Catholicism along with an explanation of the influence of El Niño Fidencio, a curandero (healer) in Mexican culture. Allusions to things that only a Mexican would understand, plus an explanation, such as chapulines covered in chili, (fried grasshoppers), the Zapatista uprising, and being denied a visitor’s visa to the US, contributed to the feel of authenticity in the story. The political climate in Mexico, the safety concerns of journalists, the reality of kidnapping and extortion are all put into perspective as Alma’s investigation continues.
There were a few typographical errors and one incorrect Mexican term (buey vs. guey), but these did not detract from the intensity of the story. Once begun, this book was a page turner. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Love in Fire and Blood by S.B. Urquidi did an excellent job of capturing the real Mexico with its inadequate water supplies, security issues, shoddy internet, and shrines on every corner in honor of La Virgen de Guadalupe maintained with care.
Readers with some knowledge about life in Mexico who love a good mystery will enjoy the layered stories within this book. Readers with no knowledge about Mexico will also love this book. Most Mexican idiosyncrasies are well explained in the text. Readers with quite a bit of knowledge about living in Mexico will enjoy this book as well for its honest portrayal of such a lovely, broken country. So, I believe just about everyone will find Love in Fire and Blood by S.B. Urquidi a fascinating read.
Love in Fire and Blood
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