Started to read this… but the mystery isnt interesting, there is too much unnecessary filler , and I don’t care about the priest, the girl, the boy, etc. had to stop and go to another book.
The intense flamenco dancer Ramon is falsely accused of stealing a valuable painting—and possibly even murder. Ash, the young woman who barely knows him but is already convinced of his innocence, jumps to his defense and joins other locals in helping him evade the police by hiding on Native American lands. The begins a love story entwined with a mystery set in Santa Fe.
This novel doesn’t quite belong in either of its apparent genres. It seems like a romance, but since it’s mutual love at first sight right away, and from minute 1 of their acquaintance Ash never doubts Ramon’s innocence, there’s no meaningful suspense about whether the love story will work out. It wants to be a mystery/thriller, but the pace required for a good mystery is bogged down by too much redundant description and explanation. For example, there’s an odd overabundance of designer names where one or two would have sufficed to set the scene. (A key conclusion relies on beverage recognition by a character with Sherlock Holmes-style brand identification skills, but ironically that’s the one place no brand name is mentioned.) I wonder whether this story would have been more suitable as a YA novel, where the extra clarifying info might be welcome instead of a distraction. Towards the very end of the book, things finally perk up with a sense of momentum and drama more typical of mystery fiction.
It probably is no coincidence that the senior female flamenco dancer in the novel is Maria Benitez, which is the name of a real-life, well-respected flamenco dancer and company director from Santa Fe—though the real Ms. Benitez might have disputed Ash’s miraculous ability to learn flamenco in one evening while under the influence. This reference lends an air of realism to what is otherwise a highly stereotypical portrayal of the locals, with passionate flamenco dancers, wise older women, and fiery Spaniards all around. The advance digital copy I read contained many errors (far too many to be typos) in some of the most rudimentary of Spanish phrases. Though these have likely been corrected in the final publication, these errors— along with all the stereotypical characters—added to the overall impression that the novel could have benefited from a little more research.
I had a lot of fun reading this, it does what I enjoyed about the mystery genre and works as a romance as well. The description really got me invested in the story and the characters. I was hooked in reading from the first page to the end and I was always guessing. CB McCarty has a great writing style and they had a great story to tell, I look forward to reading more from them.
"Every year it was the same old thing when they came to town. They’re drunken all night dances and utter lack of respect for law and order. Booze, pot, or whatever else got them through the night and now a million-dollar art heist. The fools had finally lost their common sense and had now bitten the hand that fed them. Very regretful and very, very stupid. It was one thing to drink or smoke yourself into a stupor but another to steal a million-dollar painting from the most powerful man in New Mexico. He unfolded his arms and barked out forcefully. “Who would like to speak for the group?”