The Hidden Light of Mexico City


Eva Mendes


Eva Mendes as Luz de Maria Alba Mora

As Luz watched the band, her mouth curved into a smile and her body swayed a little to the music. If Eddo was any judge of people, she was completely unaware of how sexy she was.

“You should draw this,” he said.

“All right.” Her mouth was a little too big for her face and her smile was dazzling.

Besides being gorgeous, Eva Mendes is a strong actress who brings an undertone of humor to every role. Luz de Maria’s sense of humor comes out in her artwork and Eva would be just the actor to bring that out. Loved her in Hitch (remember when she fell off the jet ski?) and of course those perfume ads.

America Ferrera

America Ferrera

America Ferrera as Lupe Alba Mora

“I knew you wouldn’t be happy about this, Luz,” Lupe cut in, her voice still soft and timid. “That’s why I asked Mama to tell you. You’re the one with the important job. You can draw and paint and remember what you read and make decisions. Juan Pablo’s smart and good at everything. But being a mother is what I’m good at.” She held up her hands in a gesture of supplication. “I’ve wanted another baby for so long, Luz.”

The relationship between Luz de Maria and her sister Lupe is pivotal to the story; one woman can see a different future and the other cannot. America Ferrera is a versatile actor, as she’s shown in both Ugly Betty and movies like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and End of Watch, and she would bring life to the heartbreak of Lupe’s choices.

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria as Lorena Lopez de Betancourt

Lorena pushed a last pin into the thick white hair she’d caught up in a twist at the back. She often did her hair afterwards, sitting naked in front of the vanity table in the room they always used. He liked when she did that, liked the knowledge that she was preening for him. She’d never had children and her belly was still flat and her breasts firm.

She put on her underwear, wisps of La Perla lace unlike anything that Graciela had ever worn, and stepped into a navy silk sheath dress. She came to the bed. “Zip me up.”

Hugo slid his hand through the opening in the back and caressed her lace-covered breast. Lorena made a noise deep in her throat. She let him continue for a moment then twisted to signal he was done.

Eva Longoria has an air of authority and style that would work perfectly for this character. Lorena is the First Lady of Mexico who has been trying to upstage her husband ever since he was elected president. Her latest antic is to declare her candidacy for the office of president. Her ethics are easy to understand; she likes men and will use them to get what she wants.

Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia

Andy Garcia as Hugo de la Madrid Acosta

As Luis discussed the contribution from Financial, Eddo couldn’t help admiring Hugo’s gesture. The man was tough and demanding but he set high standards, paid attention to his people, and acknowledged excellence. It was why Eddo had gone to work for the man in the first place, why they’d been able to clean up the ministry after years of stagnation.

“Good, good,” Hugo said as Luis wound up. “Let’s keep the collaboration going.” He turned to Luis. “Can you excuse us now, Luis, I want to talk to Eduardo for a moment alone.”

Luis shook hands with the other two men and left. Hugo walked over to the dessert buffet. He perused the remaining sweets, his back to the room. Eddo slowly put his portfolio into his briefcase, his mind racing.

“I hear you’re working long hours,” Hugo said.

“No more than you,” Eddo replied.

Andy Garcia does power onscreen very well, whether it is the young cop in The Untouchables or the self-serving casino owner in Ocean’s 11. As Hugo, he’d project that power as Mexico’s Minister of Public Security, a man whose plotting and alliances have but one end–more power.

Sophia Vergara

Sophia Vergara

Sophia Vergara as Selena de Vega

Selena Obregon Javier de Vega was both the most demanding and most interesting employer Luz had ever had. First and foremost she was a true castellano. For the most part, Mexico’s elite upper class was made up of criollos, people of pure Spanish blood born in Mexico. Castellanos were the elite of the elite, Mexicans whose Spanish heritage could be traced to Castile, region of kings and conquistadores. Señora Vega burnished her lofty place in Mexican society by claiming to have gone to college in Lisbon and affecting a Portuguese accent, which Luz knew to be fake because it disappeared when she was stressed or angry. It made all her “z’s” turn into “sh” and she customarily referred to Luz as “Loosh.”

Sophia Vergara is best known in the US as Gloria in Modern Family, and the role has been a humorous one. There’s a touch of fun in this role as well, only Selena de Vega takes herself very seriously. But she keeps her domestic help, including Luz de Maria, on a very tight leash. I think it would be interesting to see Eva Mendes and Sophia Vergara interact in these roles.

John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo as Tomas Valderama Castro

 The door was opened by powerful, thickset man of medium height. He wore pressed khaki pants, a pale blue button-down oxford shirt, expensive shoes, and a gun slung under his arm as if he was in a norteamericano police movie.

“Uh,” Luz said.

“Fuck,” he said. “Are you Luz de Maria?” He pulled her into the apartment. Someone came in right behind her. The door shut with a sharp click.

John Leguizamo was the first face that came to mind for this character. If there is any character that provides comic relief in this book, it is Tomas. He’s got the grouchy lines and gets seasick at a critical moment. But he’s a steadfast friend and an experienced soldier in Mexico’s drug war. Just be aware–he’s not a white knight.

Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal as Vasco Madeira Suiza

“Luz de Maria?” Vasco asked, light brown eyes glowing behind funky designer tortoise shell glasses. In his late thirties, he was a good-looking guy and the closest thing to a playboy Eddo had ever met. He was currently dating his way through the women in the Danish embassy. “Do I know her?”

Eddo stuck the cigar in his mouth and flicked the lighter furiously, trying to get a flame.

Gael Garcia Bernal is perfect for this role–able to be serious and fun, good looking enough to be believable as the character who is an attorney in the office of Mexico’s Attorney General.

Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina as Gustavo Gomez Mazzo, aka El Toro

He’d come a long way from the brickyard in Culiacan and wasn’t done yet. He’d been just 16, with two children and 12 years hauling bricks behind him, when he went north and joined a rip crew stalking the cartel mules who crossed the border with packs of drugs on their backs. He was so scared he pissed his pants that first night, but he’d impressed the leader of the rip crew when they found a group walking north and ambushed them. He was a big powerful teen, able to kill a man with his bare hands. It was hard work but in one night he made more than a month’s salary from the brickyard. A week later he killed two men with a knife, gutting them with arms made strong hefting sand and stone. When the leader of the rip crew was killed by a gang working for the Colombian cartel that owned the plaza, or smuggling route, Gomez Mazzo struck a deal with the man most likely to become the new leader. Gomez Mazzo would let him keep his penis and he’d let Gomez Mazzo take over the crew. The deal lasted two days and then Gomez Mazzo killed him. Those were the best years, he sometimes thought, the years when he was stronger than anyone else and learning the taste of freedom and power.

Not to typecast Alfred Molina as a villain, but he’s just so good at it! He’d make the perfect El Toro, a self-made cartel leader who is a wily survivor. This role would take Alfred Molina back to Mexico–remember how awesome he was as Diego Rivera to Sala Hayek’s Frida? Need I say more?!

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas as Arturo Romero, the Mexican presidential candidate

Eddo shook his head. “If it’s a choice between me being part of the campaign and Lorena getting the nomination, I’m out.”

“No,” Arturo said. “There are only a handful of people who can keep this country from crumbling. You are the best man for Attorney General and I will stand by that.”

Eddo nodded, nearly bereft of words in the face of Arturo’s loyalty. “I’d better go pack.”

The two men embraced.

“Vaya con Dios, Eduardo,” Arturo said.

The role of a presidential candidate calls for someone with more screen presence than the average actor and Antonio Banderas has it. This is a supporting role but a pivotal one. If the movie gets made with him as Arturo, I’ll write a sequel and give Arturo the lead this time!

And Finally . . . 

Eduardo Verastegui

Eduardo Verasetgui as Eduardo Cortez Castillo

“Mark my words, Eduardito.” Bernal Paz’s voice was so low Eddo had to strain to hear. “Hugo de la Madrid Acosta is a powerful man. He’ll learn of this investigation and when he does, you’re a dead man. A dead man.”

Eddo met Bernal Paz’s eyes. “Maybe I already am.”

“Two weeks,” Bernal Paz spat. “And you will not be welcome in my house again.”

The old man stalked out of the restaurant, acknowledging no one although he probably knew most of the patrons.

Eddo sat down. A wave of nausea hit him and he had to lift his chin and gulp air to prevent the searing bile from coming up.


The waitress in her elaborate pleated paper gown smiled at him inquiringly as she lifted away the remains of the meal. “A postre, señor? I could show you the dessert tray.”

“No, thank you,” Eddo said hoarsely. A sugar rush was the last thing he ever needed. “A brandy, please.”

The waitress brought a balloon glass and Eddo sipped the brandy, listening to the hum of unspoken deals and the slick murmur of political wheels being greased. The nausea passed, leaving his body churning with tension and residual adrenaline. The exchange with Bernal Paz had been a hell of a way to end the week, especially given his lack of sleep. He was dealing with the pressure of the investigation with his usual prescription of running and working out, but it was turning him into a chronic insomniac.

At least tomorrow was Saturday, the day when he’d go to La Marquesa, the big area of scrubby parkland between Mexico City and Toluca. He’d played fútbol there every Saturday since his earliest police days.

That’s when he’d run and run until he was nothing more than two feet and a pair of lungs, until he coughed blood and stank of sweat and forgot for an hour or two everything that he was and what he had to do and the people who’d get hurt along the way.

So what actor can play Eddo Cortez Castillo? Eddo is a former cop and attorney, now the head of the Office of Special Investigations in Mexico’s Ministry of Public Security.

He’s the equivalent of Internal Affairs. And unfortunately very good at his job. His life will be on the line more than once but Eddo is a creative problem solver with unexpected resources. Eddo is well educated and from an extremely wealthy old-money family that can trace its unbroken lineage back to Spain. He’s a black sheep, however, forsaking the family business for law enforcement and visions of making Mexico a better place. A former star athlete who once dreamed of a professional soccer career, he’s a gutter fighter when necessary. A natural leader, a workaholic, a reader of history, a crusader for what is right. But at 41 he’s also a lonely man who has had little time in his life for romantic commitments.

Eduardo Verastegui, a bi-lingual Mexican actor and activist, is my choice to play the role. Here’s his IMDB bio:


This book connects two cultures. The music should do the same.

There are two videos embedded on this page. Take a moment and let them load; they are both worth watching if you want to get a feel for this book.

1.  Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

2. The Lonely Bull (El Solo Toro) by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (My brother, 7 years my senior, had this album as I was growing up and I still remember being entranced with the pure, clear notes of the trumpet. If it could be renamed, it would be “Eddo’s Theme.”)

3. Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

4. If You Go (Si Te Vas) by Jon Secada (a fantastic song by a fantastic artist that perfectly captures the tension between Luz and Eddo)

5. Solo Pienso En Ti by Miguel Bose

6. Tu Boca by Cheyanne (Luz and Eddo’s the first evening together)

7. Color My World by Chicago (my suggestion–new cover by Ricky Martin;  the song playing as Luz paints in San Miguel)

8. Last Chance for Love by Radney Foster (you might not think that C&W music fits here, but it does.)

9. El Verdadero Amor Perdona by Mana (Luz in Soledad de Doblado after getting fired)

10. All My Bridges Burning by Los Lobos  (Eddo in Anahuac waiting for–er, nope, not going to give it away)

11. Tu Fotografia by Gloria Estefan (Eddo and Luz in San Miguel)

12. Tu Mucara by The Mavericks (the last scene . . . if you know what it happening in that scene you’ll know why this is the perfect song)

13. Only the Beginning by Chicago (the original ranchera-inspired recording, playing as the credits roll)

The Hidden Light of Mexico City thriller


Read Chapters 1 and 2



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