Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Garcia-Aguilera, like her sleuth, Guadalupe ("Lupe") Solano, has worked as a Miami PI, her first effort has more melodrama than mystery. Lucia and Jose Moreno were happy when their high-society lawyer arranged a no-questions-asked adoption; but now that their daughter's life depends on a bone-marrow transplant from her birth mother, he's no help. So they've come to Lupe, a Mercedes-driving, Beretta-toting daughter of Miami's Cuban American elite, who taps a wide network of friends and lovers in her effort to find the child's biological mother. She succeeds, but at a price. Not long after Lupe realizes that she's being tailed, a man is killed. Then luck delivers Barbara Perez, a link in the illegal-adoption chain, and Lupe must overcome the woman's hostility and persuade her to undertake a dangerous journey. Lupe and her eccentric family (a bodybuilding cousin; a dad who keeps a boat provisioned for the day when Castro falls; a sister who's a nun) have a charm that bodes well for future outings. But this caper suffers from the pivotal role of circumstance. TV rights optioned to De Passe Productions. (Feb.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This first novelist incorporates standard mystery formula with great success by adding her own subtle twists. Young private investigator Lupe Solano, who belongs to a wealthy, Miami-based Cuban-American family, struggles to locate the birth mother of an illegally adopted baby who needs a transplant. But before her search yields any answers, a murder occurs. Fans of Edna Buchanan should enjoy this adventurous, refreshing, and alternative view of Miami.
A first novel, set in Miami's upper-class Cuban community, featuring private eye Lupe Solano, daughter of rich émigrés, who shares her cottage office with muscle-freak cousin Leonardo. Lupe's wealthy new clients, Lucia and José Antonio Moreno, want her to find the birth mother of their daughter Michelle, now a year and a half old. Adopted at two weeks through well-known lawyer Elio Betancourt, Michelle has a rare, inherited disease and can be saved only by bone marrow from her mother. Betancourt, however, is running an illegal, very lucrative baby-selling racket and will tell the Morenos nothing. Lupe, then, begins with a search through Dade County records and some quizzing of her usual contacts, turning up the name of the obstetrician, now vanished, but little else. Her surveillance of the lawyer's ongoing operations, though, reveals that his source for infants is not in Florida, but in Cuba, with secretive boatman Alberto Cruz and massive, ever-pregnant Barbara Perez making the dangerous runs by sea. After Cruz is found stabbed to death, the emotional Lupe, a more volatile version of her sisters in detection, feels compelled to make the run with Barbaraher only chance of finding Michelle's mother. A hellish trip it is, too, producing a high body count but accomplishing Lupe's mission.
The plot tends to ramble, and characters don't always come to life, despite the attention lavished on them, but the Cuban- AmericanCatholic background is a facet of Florida life not often explored in this genre. A talent worth watching.