About the Book
“A dry, sharp x-ray of the horror of life in the Gulf, the network of complicity, the scope of tragedy. A gritty, direct, exciting novel that is a must-read for anyone who wants to look at the hell that the Gulf (and Mexico at the same time) has become.”—Antonio Ortuño
From a writer whose work has been praised by Junot Díaz as “Latin American fiction at its pulpy phantasmagorical finest,” Don’t Send Flowers is a riveting novel centered on Carlos Treviño, a retired police detective in northern Mexico who has to go up against the corruption and widespread violence that caused him to leave the force, when he’s hired by a wealthy businessman to find his missing daughter.
A seventeen-year-old girl has disappeared after a fight with her boyfriend that was interrupted by armed men, leaving the boyfriend on life support and the girl an apparent kidnap victim. It’s a common occurrence in the region—prime narco territory—but the girl’s parents are rich and powerful, and determined to find their daughter at any cost. When they call upon Carlos Treviño, he tracks the missing heiress north to the town of La Eternidad, on the Gulf of Mexico not far from the U.S. border—all while constantly attempting to evade detection by La Eternidad’s chief of police, Commander Margarito Gonzalez, who is in the pockets of the cartels and has a score to settle with Treviño.
A gritty tale of murder and kidnapping, crooked cops and violent gang disputes, Don’t Send Flowers is an engrossing portrait of contemporary Mexico from one of its most original voices.
“A breathless marvelous first novel… Latin American fiction at its pulpy phantasmagorical finest, this is a literary masterpiece masquerading as a police procedural and nothing else I’ve read this year comes close. Solares does for Latin American literature what Eduardo Lago did for Iberian literature with his monumental novel Llámame Brooklyn. The Black Minutes is that good.”—Junot Díaz, in The Times Literary Supplement
“Mr. Solares is a graceful, even poetic, writer, especially in his hard-boiled dialogue and his descriptions of the wildly varied landscapes and ethnic types of northern Mexico. Though the world of The Black Minutes is one to inspire fear and revulsion, Mr. Solares’s descriptions of it are oddly beautiful and fascinating in the same way that overturning a rock and observing the maggots beneath can be a perversely edifying spectacle.” —Larry Rohter, The New York Times
“Solares’s debut deftly treads a risky tightrope between police procedural and surreal fantasy . . . this haunting novel forces readers to confront that bedeviling paradox of human nature, the eternal mystery of wickedness.”— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“From its first pages, it’s clear that Martín Solares’s debut crime novel is shooting for more than basic genre thrills. The writing is clean, almost edgeless, but the occasional elegant metaphor slips in. Most of the writing, however, steers clear of overt gestures, for a good reason: At 436 pages, this double-tiered mystery has more than enough incident to get through as is . . . The Black Minutes is briskly immersive and satisfyingly tangled, with a resonant sense of the weight of age-old injustices.” —The Onion
“Martín Solares’s first novel, The Black Minutes, an uncommonly nuanced neo-noir… may be exactly the right book to read at the end of 2010, a particularly dark year in recent Mexican history. It’s crime fiction, but it’s also a meditation on corruption, and it captures the kind of nightmarish helplessness that many feel in the face of the tide of narco-violence sweeping the north of Mexico… Scraping away some of the cool remove of the traditional noir, The Black Minutes gives a gorgeous, suffocating sense of life in Mexico’s sweltering northeast and an equally smother sense of a justice system in which the concept of justice has been leached of meaning… The general impact of the plot is stunning. His characters simultaneously move toward resolution and the void, each success paradoxically dragging them down.” —The Nation
“Martín Solares uses the codes and formula of classic crime novels to create a universe where the reader is permanently on a fluctuating border between dream and reality, between fiction and the authentic violence of facts.”— Le Monde (France)
“At first, the sheer exuberant inventiveness of this remarkable Mexican debut may mystify some American crime-fiction fans. If those readers give it a chance, however, they may wonder why the authors they usually read are so risk-averse . . . Solares’ prose—alternately playful, poetic, and plainspoken—propels the pages. Some fantastic elements of Latin American fiction, such as dreams and ghosts, are present, but they won’t be dealbreakers for crime fans who don’t like magical realism.” —Booklist
“Martín Solares’s first novel is a dense, warm, and complex noir fiction. But its originality lies elsewhere, in its dreamlike digressions . . . The confessions of a Jesuit, the brief appearance of a criminology vedette, literary references, all contribute to introducing shifts to the register generating interest and charm.” —Le Temps (France)
“[Martín Solares’s] debut novel is risky business . . . One of the most ambitious crime novels that Mexico has had to offer since the great works of Paco Ignacio Taibo II.”— Titel Magazin (Germany)
“Martín Solares’s novel is intense and exhilarating, full of violence and action . . . This first novel by Solares will satisfy—and believe me, to an immense degree—those who enjoy impossible missions and quixotic adventures. Go, go read this splendid novel.”— El País (Spain)
“A dark novel, completely enclosing itself inside the parameters of the genre, in which the author shows us an extremely critical glimpse of the police corruption of his country . . . Solares displays an impressive string of situations, and constructs an action-packed plot that never declines . . . [He] is a true novelist.” —El Mundo (Spain)
“The exotic world that boils in The Black Minutes is not limited to the rules of the ordinary; the nightmare and the supernatural at times involve the narration and fracture our trust . . . detective novels that are important are those that are capable of transcending the genre, they survive by their metaphysical implications or for the sharp representation of society that inspires them.” —ABC de las Artes y Las Letras (Spain)