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Posted July 8, 2011
Nicely written. Interesting story.
I picked up this book because I am from Bakersfield and lived there half my life. I was excited to see that there was a novel set in Bakersfield, and was eager to know more about the author, particularly because the issue of Anglo (white) vs. Mexican is so prominent in the story, and because the author is of Hispanic origin. I don't typically read mysteries or thrillers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I liked most parts of the story. It was nicely written. Mr. Munoz captures so many of the elements of Bakersfield that are so ordinary, but what makes Bakersfield: the color of fall sunlight, the imagery of wide open spaces and even the pleasant smell of fertile soil in the heat. It's not a love letter to Bakersfield, but it is a great setting to this story, and if you are familiar with the city (or any larger Central Valley town), you will be able to envision the landmarks in the novel.
It's not the type of book I wished would go on for another hundred pages to tie up loose ends, but I do wish he would have explained a little more about the mother, Mrs. Watson, her son Dan, the Mexican day laborer and the young lady who was killed. It is billed as a mystery/thriller noir, and while it does have plenty of noir, it could have used more mystery and thriller. It like a Hemingway story, where so much is explained by terse dialogue, and the reader is left to make his/her own inferences about what is actually transpiring. I wasn't around Bakersfield in the 1950s, but the way that the shoe store was described, and the way the young woman was treated as an employee by her Anglo boss and co-worker sounds very probable.
The corollary to the action with the main characters is the journey of The Actress and The Director, which you may come to identify as Janet Leigh and Alfred Hitchcock on a fictionalized trip to Bakersfield to scout filming locations and, naturally, freeway motels for a film project. Those more familiar with Hitchcock will probably eat this up with a spoon, as there are several parallels between "Psycho" and this story: a young woman on her own, a mother/son in the motel business, etc.
I think most readers won't be disappointed by this very interesting story. Enjoy!