When I was younger, I would use certain words until their meaning lost all impact. One of my favorite words was INTENSE. School was intense, my love life was intense, every movie was intense. It was a wonder I made it through my everyday life without being consumed by the intensity of it all.
Reading Gabino Iglesias’ crime fiction novel Zero Saints brought this word to my forefront of my mind. I probably told myself this book was intense about every twenty pages or so and I meant it everytime.
The main character Fernando tries to make a quiet life as an illegal alien in Austin, Texas, but can’t seem to escape the violence of la frontera aka the border between U.S. and Mexico. He sells drugs and works as an enforcer to make ends meet. But after he gets thrown in a trunk and forced to watch his friend’s head get cut off by some heavily tattooed gangsters, everything begins to fall apart.
There’s a good amount of Spanish in here, but Gabino does a great job of conveying the meaning through context. Don’t let a dash of another language scare you away. I promise you it’s worth it and adds to the rich flavor of the narrative.
The supernatural elements running through this book are on point. This is the first time I’ve seen santeria, orishas, voodun and other not so well-known religions find there way into a crime fiction book.
Zero Saints hits you like a freight train and doesn’t let up. It’s full of grit, desperation, and a dark intensity that might swallow you whole if you’re not careful. This is everything I wanted and more in a crime novel. I pray to Santa Muerte that Gabino pens another crime fiction book in a similar vein (the Russian hitman deserves a solo book).
Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Zero-Saints-Gabino-Iglesias/dp/1940885337