Tag Archives: Latinos

Summer Kinard. Can’t Buy Me Love. United States: Light Messages Publishing, 2013.

Can't Buy Me LoveDoes love at first sight count when only one person is looking? After Vanessa Fauchon digs three scrapbooks out of a dumpster, she falls in love with an attractive Latino man who appears in the photos. For Vanessa happening upon the scrapbooks was part luck and part routine. Vanessa is a freegan. Freegans, essentially, do not believe in purchasing any consumer products, even for basic needs like food and clothes. Instead, they rely on thrifty thinking and dumpster-diving to make ends meet in a sustainable lifestyle.

Shortly after Vanessa discovers the scrapbooks she breaks up with her deadbeat boyfriend and dumpster-diving partner, Bradley. Although Vanessa and Bradley share physical compatibility, they lack the same long-term desires. In the near future Vanessa hopes for children, while Bradley believes she should get sterilized for the good of population control. Bradley is a vigilant freegan and wields his ideology to shirk responsibility. Vanessa suspects that Bradley is lazy and masquerades that fact behind his tenet of simplicity. If he does not receive something free out of an encounter, then Bradley has no interest in exerting any effort.

Fortunately, Vanessa is a member of Fructus, a women’s group that meets to socialize, crochet, and support one another. Fructus has a range of strong, unconventional female members, from a luchadora to an ethics professor. The women of Fructus help Vanessa during her weakest times and implore her to seek out a more fulfilling relationship. Bradley is a leech of a character and Vanessa struggles to remove him from her life. By contrast to Bradley, Vanessa is a hard worker who tends bar at a local brewery. One night, in a moment of complete serendipity, she recognizes a familiar face from across the bar–a face that bears an uncanny resemblance the handsome visage of the Latino man in the foraged scrapbooks. Although Can’t Buy Me Love revolves around a peculiar love story, the friendships between the female characters are the crux of the novel.

Summer Kinard, a first-time novelist, has an educational background in religion. She earned her M.Div and Th. M. from Duke Divinity School and elements of her interest in religion emerge throughout the book. Moreover, her knowledge of Durham is evident. She references several local attractions and businesses around the city such as Duke Gardens, the Carolina Theatre, and Locopops. Readers acquainted with the Triangle area may delight in the recognizable portrait of Durham that Kinard has rendered in her novel. All readers can enjoy Kinard’s magical and seemingly improbable love story.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Durham, Kinard, Summer, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Katy Munger. Better Off Dead. New York: Avon Books, 2001.

Casey Jones, Triangle-based Private Investigator and (contrarily) ex-convict, is enjoying a quiet evening at home watching NC State trounce Duke at basketball. That is, until her boyfriend Burly starts haranguing the disconsolate Blue Devils fans from their Durham apartment window. With all the ruckus, Casey almost misses the knock on her door- and may come to wish she had. Her visitor is a terrified cleaning lady, who isn’t worried for herself, but for her employer- the infamous Helen Pugh McInnes. Casey knows a little about Helen: a graduate student who accused a well-respected Duke professor of rape, she lost her case and became a community pariah. Casey comes to learn that the gentle Helen has spent the year since her day in court too afraid to leave her quiet country home, terrorized by perverse phone calls and letters from her rapist, who is clearly still at large. Even venturing onto her front porch leaves her in the throes of a major panic attack. Casey knows right away that she has to help Helen, but since Helen is viewed as a liar and a loose woman, Detective Jones must tread carefully.

Her first move is to protect Helen: Casey’s boyfriend Burly, her lovable yet flabby boss, Bobby, and Bobby’s voluptuous girlfriend and paragon of Southern charm, Fanny, as well as a host of others all take up residence in Helen’s spacious, self-induced prison. Meanwhile, the thirty-something Casey applies a liberal amount of concealer and eyeshadow in order to infiltrate Duke University itself, going undercover as a non-traditional coed. But she isn’t entirely prepared for what she finds. As usual, the case is complicated by unforeseen circumstances: a wide-eyed college boy develops a crush on the gruff Casey, and for some reason it’s more difficult than usual to determine who the rapist really is. But Casey Jones always gets her man…unless this time, he gets to her first.

Readers will be glad to know that this tightly wound narrative deals sensitively with a difficult topic while still maintaining the series’ usual sense of humor. Katy Munger’s cast of misfits, cops, and strange birds is back, with some entertaining new additions. The Duke community will be pleased to note that the author issues a strong statement in the beginning as to the very fictional content of this novel. The UNC and NC State communities will be more satisfied with Duke’s (inevitable?) loss in the opening game.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Durham, Munger, Katy, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont

Mike Sanders. Thirsty 2. East Orange, NJ: Wahida Clark Presents, 2011.

Justice Dial is back in this bloody sequel to Thirsty, Mike Sanders’s novel about hustling on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina. Beautiful, clever, and ruthless, Justice used to make loads of cash by seducing men, gleaning the location of their wealth, and passing on the information to her brother, Monk. But then it all went wrong, and in a terrible case of mistaken blame, her murderous, drug lord ex-boyfriend Carlos came after the brother and sister. Monk was killed, but Justice fled to Chicago.

Now Justice owns and operates a successful strip club but has never stopped plotting her revenge on Tan, the vicious drug dealer who killed her brother. The situation heats up when Justice returns to the Queen City to support her best friend Sapphire, whose mother is dying. Sapphire was a victim of a nearly fatal beating when Carlos’s crew thought she crossed them, and Carlos has been making restitution ever since he discovered her and Justice’s innocence. Sapphire has forgiven him, but Justice refuses, so Sapphire sees her best friend’s return to Charlotte as an opportunity to convince her of Carlos’s sincerity.

Meanwhile, Tandora Mendoza, daughter of the Mendoza crime family, is out for her own revenge. Robbed by Justice, Monk, and their gang, Tan has already eliminated one sibling, and now she’s waiting for her chance at Justice…before Justice can get to her first. The two women stalk one another through Charlotte and finally Chicago, surrounded by their henchmen and women. But who can they really trust? In the end, a true enemy may be the one they least expect. Justice must survive the hatred of those who want her dead, while fighting the love of the one man she swore never to forgive.

This novel contains graphic sexual and violent content.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Sanders, Mike, Suspense/Thriller

O. C. Strunk. Satan’s Angels. Baltimore, MD: Publish America, 2009.

Matthew Glass has settled in nicely to the beach house that his friend Christopher Fry left him in An Ever-Fixed Mark.  It’s a comfortable place and Matthew is feeling a sense of peace until one morning he discovers that a young woman’s body has washed up next to his dock.  Matthew is not looking forward to interacting with the local sheriff, a man who Matthew tangled with when he investigated Christopher Fry’s death. Surprisingly, Sheriff Gore seems to have buried the hatchet, and rather than suspecting Matthew of the murder, he only asks Matthew to keep him informed if he learns anything about the case.

Of course, Matthew does not do that.  He delays telling the sheriff that he has met with an older Hispanic man who asked about the woman’s appearance, and he tries to keep the authorities from learning about the activities of the wife of one of his friends.  Belita, the wife of Father Mark Wyatt, an Episcopal priest in North Myrtle Beach, has been letting undocumented workers on their way north stay in a cottage that the couple owns in Sunset, North Carolina.  Readers come to find out that the dead woman and two friends stayed in the cottage, on their way to a modeling school in Wilmington.  When Matthew looks into the modeling school, he learns from Sheriff Gore that the school might be a front for shadier activities, but neither the sheriff nor Matthew is prepared for the connection between the school and one of the most admired citizens in the area.

This is a book with timely themes–Hispanic immigration, celebrity culture–and much older ones–the innocence of youth, the exploitation of the weak, and the urge for vengeance.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Brunswick, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Strunk, O. C.

Richard Helms. Six Mile Creek. Detroit: Five Star, 2010.

Things are changing in Prosperity, North Carolina.  Farm land is being bought up to create upscale suburban developments, and longtime residents are uneasily adjusting to new neighbors who “aren’t from around here.”  Yes, there is tension in the air.  Still, police chief Judd Wheeler and everyone else is shocked when Prosperity has its first murder in almost a decade.

When the body of a young Latina is found at Six Mile Creek, Chief Wheeler’s investigation uncovers painful things about his community.  He’s known for some time that there are racial tensions at the school, but he is dismayed to learn from his son and his girlfriend, who is a high school teacher, the ugly way that racism mixes with drug use, snobbery, and teenage sexuality.  The town fathers want the murder solved, and solved in a way that places the blame on the victim and her community.  Wheeler won’t do that, but as he investigates the girl’s relationship with some star high school athletes, more violence happens–fights in the school, a horrific assault on a Latino boy, and the beating of an Anglo football player in a high school restroom.  Are all these crimes related?  Are they all the work of high school students, or are the students pawns in games played by others in the community?  And why does the Department of Homeland Security come to town?  The multiple strands of this dark mystery come together in a satisfying conclusion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Helms, Richard, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Don Glander. Beyond Borders: Murder and High Crime on the Waterway. United States: American Imaging, 2006.

Matt and Lindy are two retirees living a quiet life on the coast in Brunswick County.  Matt is happy to catch and cook blue crabs, listen to jazz, and shoot the breeze with the neighbors. Lindy prefers a more active life, and she is in town most days working as a volunteer translator at the health clinic and other county offices.  Their quiet life is changed when Matt discovers the body of a Mexican immigrant in the water near his crab pots.  The young man has been murdered in what appears to be a professional hit.  Another murder follows.  Although the murders appear to have been done by a local policeman, the police chief thinks that they were the work of someone else, possibly an outsider.  Matt and Lindy find confirmation of that hunch when a desperate immigrant that Lindy knows through her translating work takes refuge with Matt and Lindy.  Soon they are all in the gun sight of the local boss of a Mexican crime syndicate in this novel that wraps the subject of illegal immigration into a fast-paced thriller.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Brunswick, Coast, Glander, Don, Suspense/Thriller

Margaret Maron. Hard Row. New York: Warner Books, 2007.

Judge Deborah Knott is adjusting to married life with her new husband, Dwight Bryant, and his young son Cal. There are signs that Colleton County is not doing as well accepting its newcomers–immigrant agricultural workers. When body parts begin to turn up around the county it’s clear that a murder has taken place. Who was the victim? Who is the murderer? The answers to these questions make this a timely book about race, class, and the vulnerability of immigrant laborers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Maron, Margaret, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Eric Martin. Luck. New York: Norton, 2000.

Mike Olive and several classmates from Duke spend the summer in fictional Cottesville, N.C. alongside Mexican migrant workers on a tobacco farm. The students are working on a project to document the living and working conditions of the workers, and find that conditions are even worse than they imagined. As they began to protest the abuses they see, the locals are none too happy, especially Harvey Dickerson, Mike’s childhood friend. To make things even more complicated, Mike has fallen for the daughter of one of the Mexican workers. As the end of the summer approaches, Mike finds that there are now several people out to get him.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000, 2000-2009, Martin, Eric