Not only do I write mysteries but I love reading them, too, especially the ones that take me to new places. This week’s book review is of A COMMON EVIL by Billy Ray Chitwood, a gem I discovered via Twitter. There aren’t many mysteries set in Mexico but Chitwood’s Bailey Crane series, of which A COMMON EVIL is the 6th and last, is a frequent and thoughtful visitor.

The novel takes us to a seaside resort along Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Bailey is a retired Arizona cop who, with his wife Wendy, has settled into the condo resort in Mexico and is now the homeowner’s association head honcho. But along with sun and luxe, the Cranes also find danger and duplicity.

The cornerstone of the story is a scenario in which the largest cartel in Mexico, with a jefe who is not too objectionable, promises to clean up the violence and strike a deal with the Mexican government. Part of the clean-up action (read: getting rid of his rivals in order to run a drug monopoly with Mexico City’s approval) spills over onto Bailey’s turf. There’s a shootout on the resort property and Wendy is kidnapped because of a letter Bailey wrote protesting the dubious dealings of an American consorting with the cartels. Bailey’s survival instincts surge to the fore, although not always with the results he intends.

This isn’t the usual whodunit but a look at Mexico’s drug war through an expatriate’s eye. The charm of the novel—and the series–is Bailey’s unmissable musings on life and love. The tone feels autobiographical and authentic. His voice is a gutsier, spicier, and more raw version of Alexander McCall Smith’s point of view in the latter’s Isabel Dalhousie series but Bailey’s subject matter is both more intense and immediate. Even if you can’t quite wrap your head around the cartel-government bedfellows plot, A COMMON EVIL has plenty of twists, character surprises, and an alternately sunny and dangerous atmosphere that keep the pages turning.

 

FYI: Carmenamato.net uses Amazon Affiliate links.

2 Comments

  1. billyraychitwood1

    Thanks, Carmen, for a lovely review… Love your blog: it’s clean, uncluttered, and readable… Hope you can do the ‘My Main Character Blog Tour’ – Emilia will love you for it. 🙂 My blog is: http://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com

    • Carmen

      Thank you again for the invite and the opportunity to read A COMMON EVIL. Cheers!

The worst writing advice ever. Not kidding.

“But the novel is set in Mexico,” she said. “All the characters are Mexican.” “That’s right,” I replied. “Lives of the people fighting the drug cartels. And Mexico’s class structure.” More than 5 years ago, I was speaking on the phone to a well-known American author...

read more

The creative process according to Tolkien (and me)

Last week I sat down with fantasy author Vee James to talk about the creative process. He’s the author of NECCABASHAR, the tale of a young demon climbing the corporate ladder in Hell with hilarious results. (Comedy Channel, take note. This is your next breakout...

read more

Book Review: Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

BLUE LIGHT YOKOHAMA by Nicolás Obregón is a dense and layered police procedural set in contemporary Japan. The title is that of a song which keeps playing in the mind of the main character; like the song, the book is one I won’t soon forget because of...

read more

Be an Influencer

Learn to write fast, influential reviews with my 5 Sentence Book Review Cheatsheet

Get the downloadable PDF Book Review Cheatsheet, complete with simple outline, instructions, and an example to follow.

You'll also receive my twice-monthly Mystery Ahead newsletter with book reviews, author interviews, and sales and book release news.
I never share emails addresses and never send spam.

© 2018 Carmen Amato.

Hello

I'm author Carmen Amato. I write mystery and suspense, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco. Expect risk, power, corruption. And relationships with heat.  More

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This