A second foray into the world of Cuban Miami with p.i. Lupe Solano (Bloody Waters, 1996), this time working on an assignment from sometime lover Tommy McDonald. McDonald is the lawyer representing Alonso Arango Sr., owner of Optima Jewelers in Coral Gables, who admits to shooting would-be robber Gustavo Gaston six times as Gaston came at him with a knife in the store's back office. The knife, however, is nowhere to be found, and six shots seem excessive. McDonald's plea of self-defense for his client is in jeopardy, and Lupe is asked to do background research. The store employs three salespeople, a bookkeeper, and a part-time cleaner, all of who disclaim any knowledge of Gustavo Gaston. So, too, does Arango's familyhis wife Isabel and three grown sons. Lupe has a personal stake in this case, having recovered a phone message from her dearest friend Margarita, a decorator working on the Arango residence, only after Margarita's fatal car accident, telling Lupe that she has information about the case. As it turns out, almost everyone involved has something to hide. Before the close, the body count has furiously escalated and Lupe has been tailed, threatened, kidnapped, and herself almost killed. She comes through with the goods, of coursefortified throughout by lots of fine food, good liquor, and an occasional bout of lovemaking.
A free-spirited heroine, some wry humor, and an insider's look at an unfamiliar milieu are pluses here. But the chaotic plot, with its excess of paper-thin characters, may lose readers long before the finish.