Set in the Mexican state of Sinaloa during the tumultuous 1960s, Mendoza's (Un asesino solitario [A Lonely Assassin], Tusquets, 1999) second novel follows the story of David, a na ve farm boy who is forced to journey into Mexico City after accidentally killing Rogelio Castro, the son of a powerful drug lord. Despite a mental disability, David manages to achieve some short-lived success as a pitcher for the Dodgers (he has a superhuman ability to throw small objects across great distances) and to spend a passionate night with the iconic Janis Joplin. Upon returning to Sinaloa, David seeks to be reunited with Joplin, but first he must avoid the vengeful Castro brothers, a corrupt police commandant who takes him for a guerrilla leader, an annoying internal voice bent on self-destruction, and a seductive woman reminiscent of a character in a Laura Esquivel novel. Indeed, there is plenty of magic realism sprinkled throughout this dark and violent novel. Mendoza's political and social commentaries give voice to a people who are still struggling against the ills of 40 years ago. His language is edgy and distinctly Mexican, but the context makes up for most unfamiliar words. Especially recommended for bookstores and public libraries catering to a large Mexican community.C sar Cazales, "Criticas" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.