A while ago I read Fever City which was a fascinating portrayal of the Kennedy era (review here) Therefore I was delighted to be asked to join the blog tour for his latest novel City Without Stars.
City Without Stars is described as an epic novel. Which I have to say would normally put me off as I find in the film world that just means overly long. However I’m glad I hadn’t seen that before I agreed to read it as this was absolutely fascinating and certainly not too long.
The novel is based in Ciudad Real, Mexico where a deadly war is erupting between rival drug cartels. Alongside this, hundreds of female sweatshop workers are being murdered, which policeman Fuentes believes is linked to the main drug lord El Santo. Activist Pilar is trying to take matters into her own hands and arranging protests at the sweatshops to try and improve conditions and make people take the killings seriously. She starts working with Fuentes and also gets involved with journalist Ventura. As they investigate further the name that keeps arising is that of the Padre Marcio, a local hero who is known for his work with orphans. No one wants to believe that he can be involved, yet there is evidence they can’t ignore.
This was an interesting read. It’s certainly not one for the feint hearted. As with Tim Baker’s previous novel, this is a story that intertwines fact and fiction to create a fascinating insight into a corrupt and dangerous society. It is a violent novel, by necessity, as the world it is depicting is cruel and harsh. Yet it is also a story of hope and good trying to overcome evil.
Mainly the story is told with chapters focussing on the main characters. Yet they are also interspersed with other personalities and scenes including some women who end up victims. However despite the many characters, it is easy to keep track of and I felt the writing flowed easily. For me, one of the strengths of the novel is the portrayal of the females within it. Despite the high number of victims, there are also some incredibly strong characters that are standing up for change throughout immensely difficult circumstances.
This is an incredibly evocative novel, that is disturbing yet captivating at the same time. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a powerful story with characters that will stay with you long after the final page.
This was another free book that I picked up at the festival. It hadn’t really made it onto my reading radar until I had an email from the publisher inviting me to this blog tour. The description they sent intrigued me so I dug out my copy and I am delighted to be hosting the last stop of the Fever City Blog tour.
Fever City by Tim Baker is set around three different main story lines. It starts with the kidnapping of the son of rich businessman Rex Bannister. Private Investigator Nick Alston is asked to investigate and during this investigation he meets hitman Hastings. We then meet Hastings again in 1963 heading towards Dallas. The third of the three stories is set in 2014 when the journalist son of Nick Alston is researching the conspiracy theories of the 60s and looking at the assassination of JFK. The book switches backwards and forwards between the characters and their actions.
When I was at University I studied American History and have always been interested in the whole Kennedy era so mixing in some crime and some modern day meant this book was right up my street. Interspersed alongside the kidnapping plot we get to read about numerous historical characters that are synonymous with that time. Joe Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, J Edgar Hoover, they all make an appearance as we head towards the actual assassination.
This was a thoroughly fascinating novel that kept me gripped through to the end despite the rather long length (compared to my normal reading matter) There was a lot of mixing between time frames and viewpoints which took a while to get into. However once you got into it the book flowed easily and didn’t get as confusing as can sometimes be the case.
It is certainly not a book for the fainthearted as it doesn’t portray the romantic gentle Kennedy’s often seen. This is a much more hard boiled take on them, with some very violent scenes which is to be expected as soon as you get the know the characters a bit. Corruption, violence, mobsters – all those fascinating elements of 60’s America are covered here.
This novel cleverly mixes fact with fiction and creates an interesting mix of political thriller, historical conspiracy and family drama. I would thoroughly recommend this novel for anyone with an interest in thrillers and the Kennedy assassination.
If you would like to find out more about the author then pop over to Crime thriller girl’s blog for a q and a.