Thursday, November 01, 2007

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Kent Harrington

The Book: Kent Harrington, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS. Dennis McMillan Publications, 1997 (first edition). Signed by the author. Fine condition. Also Capra Press trade paperback, limited slip-cased edition, 2003.
First read: 2000 (approximately)
Owned since: 2003

The Mexican Day of the Dead is a two-day festival that celebrates the lives of our ancestors. It's tied to, but is not quite the same as, All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Like Halloween and Samhain, it's a festival about borders -- between life and death, and, in Kent Harrington's novel, between the U.S. and Mexico, between love and hate, and between crime and law enforcement.

DEA Agent Vincent Calhoun makes a good side income as a coyote, running illegal immigrants across the border. On the Day of the Dead, his luck starts to run out: his supervisors are onto him, he's dying of dengue fever, and he's just agreed to transport a 400-pound drug kingpin from Tijuana to Beverly Hills. And then the woman he loved -- the woman who ruined his life -- gets off a prisoners' bus in a town square.

You want noir? This is noir: a man breaking out of the system to try to seize a romantic dream that must ultimately betray him. It's not giving anything away to say that; doesn't it always work that way?

I own two copies of this book because Kent Harrington is a client and a friend. Although I did not work on the original manuscript of Dia, I helped prepare and promote the trade paperback edition, and edited a later book which I'm sure I'll discuss in a future post.

This time of year is all about borders. The sky was dim by 5:00 yesterday, and I realized that this time next week -- because of the time change -- it'll be twilight at 4:00. We've had three heavy frosts this week, and winter is coming. It's a time of year for shivers.


Mystery Dawg said...

This is my favorite book. I read it at least once a year and am still amazed at how the book affects me. I love the Capra edition with the Crumley forward and the original opening chapter.
It doesn't better than this.

Anonymous said...

The Dawg is right; this is maybe the best thing ever done in the genre.

Kent rocks mightily.

Scott P.