Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Introducing St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana

This book introduces yet another Minnesota homicide detective, this one named John Santana. (There must be something in the water up there in the Land of 10,000 lakes, what with all the fictional crime that happens in the state and what with all the detectives who are running around attempting to solve all those crimes. One suspects that if you eliminated the crime novels set in Minnesota, the genre would suddenly be reduced by about ten percent. But I digress...)

Santana is a native of Colombia and left that country under tragic circumstances, which would color the rest of his life. Like any other moody homicide detective, he is a natural loner and has issues with his bosses. And, of course, his love life is complicated and/or non existent because he's so aloof and hard to get along with.

A furor results when two prominent Hispanic citizens of St. Paul are murdered on the same afternoon in the middle of a brutal winter. Santana and his partner are investigating the first homicide and on their way to question the man who will soon become the second. As they are about to walk into the second man's apartment, his body comes flying off a balcony above and nearly lands on them.

Santana and his partner chase a potential suspect and the partner, who has been drinking, shoots the fleeing man who happens to be carrying the gun that was used in the first killing. The brass are anxious to tie a bow around this one and declare it solved, but Santana has doubts and continues the investigation at great peril to his career and maybe to his life.

This is a pretty entertaining tale, even if it does seem like it hits a lot of the usual cliches. The most interesting thing about it is the insight that the book provides into the St. Paul Hispanic community. I would suggest that the plot is a bit more convoluted than it really needs to be, but I enjoyed meeting John Santana and I'll look forward to his next outing.

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