Through NetGalley, I got an ARC of the third mystery novel featuring Jimmy Vega, a New York homicide detective. However, I decided to track down the debut story and that’s what led me to the novel, Land of Careful Shadows.
Like most mysteries, this story starts when a body is found. The body of a young Latina woman is found by the river in Lake Holly, about 50 miles north of New York City. Jimmy Vega, a detective from the county is sent to help, partly because of his background. Vega grew up in Lake Holly after his Puerto Rican mother moved the family up from the Bronx. He was one of the few “brown people” in town as a kid but things have been changing dramatically and demographically in recent years and more and more Hispanic immigrants, many undocumented, have moved to Lake Holly to work and raise their families. There is rising tension in town between the longtime, read Anglo, residents of Lake Holly and the newcomers and Jimmy Vega experiences it firsthand when he first arrives in plain clothes (and flashy shoes) and is forced from his car at gun point by a rookie detective.
As he begins to help local detective, Louis Greco, with the case, Vega has to deal with the ramifications of returning to Lake Holly—more frequent contact with his ex-wife and teenage daughter, an encounter with his first love from high school, and lots of memories. He also meets and clashes with Adele Figueroa, the director of a community center serving the Hispanic population, who schools him on the complexities of the lives of Lake Holly’s undocumented residents.
Though the reader might put the clues together a bit faster than Vega does here, that’s not really the point. This is a story of a community and the story of a prodigal son’s return; the murder is simply the spark that gets the whole thing going. I’m definitely up for more of Jimmy Vega.