I enjoy crime fiction that effectively doubles as a tour guide. I’ve never been to Miami before so part of Silent City‘s allure for me was to learn more about the city. Charles Willeford does it somewhat effectively but he’s looking at it through the ethnographic lens of an old, racist white guy.
Alex Segura gives me that and more. I appreciate writers who talk about their urban environments as if they actually dwell there. No “this is a good/bad neighborhood” kind of nonsense, but espousing a familiarity with the terrain itself. The bars and roads and neighborhoods he mentions feel lived in and not stocked with Stereotypical Miami Characters. It gave the book an earthy feel.
And it needs it because this is a first novel and I’m being generous with my first novel curve. Segura’s Pete Fernandez is somewhat interesting but I’ve kind of had my fill with the alcoholic “detective” who keeps having bad things happen to him like he’s Job. And of course, despite more bad things happening to him, he has to do This One Thing because he brought this mess on himself so he has to clean it up, aided by coincidences.
It’s very familiar and yet, Segura gives enough life into his lead that I’m willing to look past the fact that most of the characters are plot devices. He effectively lays the foundation for what promises to be an interesting series. I’d probably check out more books in this at some point to see how he grew as a writer. This is a good enough start and I’m hoping for more.