Mar Preston, Manny Aguilar, and a blog hop.

Crime writer Mar Preston tagged me to blog tour, highlighting my main character, Manuel “Manny” Aguilar.  Mar can be found at marpreston.com. She writes realistic, topical, procedurals featuring Dave Mason, a Santa Monica police detective.  Mar is the author of four crime novels (so far): No Dice, Rip-off, Payback, and On Behalf of the Family.

Manuel “Manny” Aguilar makes a second appearance in The Devil on Eighty-five, having debuted as the detective hero of Devil’s Kitchen, a border noir first published in 2011. Author Priscilla Barton describes Manny better than I can: “P.I. Manny Aguilar is someone to root for: genuine, manly, feminist, and flawed in all the right ways.”

            Manny’s been a private investigator ever since he got fired from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department for being in too many gun fights. He never swears in the presence of the dead, even if he’s killed them himself. Manny’s a Mexican-American, a Latino, a Tucson High graduate who played football and then joined the sheriff’s department.

 Manny lives in the Sonoran Desert, the place where they have those Saguaro cacti that look like people—the place where the roadrunner and the coyote come from—but the Sonoran Desert is no cartoon; it is one of the harshest natural environments on earth, and there are people on this desert who are decent and ordinary, and there are others who are not, and the flaming black engine that drives the pervasive evil present here is a phenomenon called The Drug Wars, a multibillion dollar a year industry perpetuated by the failure of the United States government, and many of its citizens, to take the money out of drugs.

One day, Manny Aguilar’s boss, Jeff Goldman, a smartass criminal defense attorney, sends him out to the Tohono O’Odham Nation, an Indian reservation the size of Connecticut, to help defend an Indian cowboy accused of murdering his own wife. Manny picks up a trail leading out the west end of the reservation to a two-lane blacktop called State Route 85. Manny will risk his freedom, his life, and his relationship with the woman he loves chasing the devil on highway 85.  The Devil on Eighty-five is available on Amazon in trade paperback and Kindle editions.

The Devil on Eighty-five reviewed by Mark Sadler in Suspense magazine.

The Devil On 85 by Clark Lohr – a review

Posted: 03 Aug 2014 12:59 PM PDT

“We have seen the enemy and he is us,” said Walt Kelly’s satirically political cartoon character Pogo, which brings to mind that any time the government gets involved in a situation there is bound to be a SNAFU.

 

Private eye Manny Aquilar follows several dead-end leads in an attempt to discover who murdered Lois Donahue, the wife of a Tohono O’Odham Indian, Donnie, who has recently been released from jail. The Native American has been re-arrested; after all he is the prime suspect, a husband with a violent past; but what husband would mutilate his bride in this fashion and burn her body? The facts just don’t add to Manny.

 

The investigation leads to a town on the rez, Ajo, Arizona where the line of questioning discovers possible reprisals from the cartels over drug and gun smuggling, not a family argument gone awry, and Manny finds himself in a shootout that leaves Lois’s sister, Evelyn, dead and Donnie critically wounded.

 

Highway 85, the ‘Devil’s Highway’ that Luis Urrea introduced too in his great book of that title, is a dangerous drug corridor where death awaits smugglers, and money changes hands for the control of the rampant evil between the cartels and those hired to enforce the laws. Guns and drugs cross the border for a profit and sometimes private citizens get caught in the crossfire, or become part of the set-up, like it or not.

 

Buckle up if you want to survive as Lohr takes us along on this bumpy ride down the Devil’s Highway in this intelligent and fast-paced race into hell and back.

The Next Big Thing Again with Deborah J. Ledford.

I got tagged again, in the writers’ schoolyard, by Deborah J. Ledford, author of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela trilogy. Crescendo, book three of the trilogy, is due out February 19, 2013.   Snare and Staccato, books one and two of the trilogy, are available at the usual online stores and from secondwindpublishing.com.  Find Deborah at: http://tinyurl.com/aqgz6b6
I’ve read Snare and I can recommend it. It’s a fact of fiction writing that Place is Character and Deborah J. Ledford writes Place both in terms of the outer world–the American Southwest in the case of Ledford’s novels–and  the inner world–the world, or worlds, of the mind.  Deborah talks about her newest novel, Crescendo, at the Second Wind Publishing Blog. Please see Deborah’s blog post at http://tinyurl.com/aqgz6b6
 The Next Big Thing format runs in a Q&A. Here’s the Q & A for The Devil on Eighty-five Title:  The Devil on Eighty-five.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I read Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway and got interested in Arizona’s forbidding western deserts. I learned about Ajo, Arizona, and Rocky Point, Mexico, and about Arizona State Route 85.  By day it’s a tourists’ highway.  By night, it’s a smuggling corridor.
What genre does your book fall under?
Crime fiction.  Subgenre: Border noir.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
You got me there. My detective hero, Manny Aguilar, is a big, dignified guy in his forties who is not “cute.”  Handsome, maybe, but not boyish–and he’s got that slightly crooked nose–and, when you look at him, you get the sense that somebody broke it and Manny just kept coming until the other guy was, like, destroyed.  
As for Reina, my heroine, find some tall, slim beauty in her forties with red hair and green eyes who is loving, extremely bright, funny as hell, and a pagan.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When a woman is murdered on Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Nation and her husband is charged with the crime Manny Aguilar and the Goldman Law Firm step in to defend the accused, finding themselves in a parallel world where the scales of justice are balanced with guns and drugs.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ll self-publish The Devil on Eighty-five. My first Manny and Reina novel, Devil’s Kitchen, was published by Oak Tree Press and is available on Amazon and various other venues.
How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My answer:  It takes what it takes. I think I can answer that better when I write my third border noir Manny and Reina novel.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jake Page’s The Deadly Canyon; Don Winslow’s Savages, or T. Jefferson Parker’s The Border Lords.  However, truth that’s stranger than fiction drives my novels and bold Mexican journalists like Ana Lilia Perez write that truth, along with Americans like Chuck Bowden and Europeans like Ioan Grillo and Ed Vulliamy.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by stories about Arizona’s western deserts and by the realities of border life both inside and outside the Tohono O’odham Nation.
…but the highest motive for writing is bringing out some truth that you yourself believe must get out into the world.  I’m motivated to take a hard look at the Drug Wars and I think the American public should take a look the Drug Wars as well. Three things are crystal clear:
One: Mexico is in the grip of a criminal insurgency due to the limitless power of Mexican drug cartels.
Two: The United States is the market for those drugs–and, generally, denies it, preferring to blame the Mexicans.
And Thirdly:  Correction: Four, not Three entities are winning the Drug Wars. Initially, I failed to mention the Banks. Research, for example, the December, 2012, HSBC bank scandal in the New York Times or Forbes.  Correction, therefore: Four entities are winning the Drug Wars: The cartels, the American law enforcement establishment, the Banks, and the American private prison industry. All four of these entities get money. The addicts and the rest of us lose money.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers who like to identify with three-dimensional characters who’re in situations where they’ll cry if they don’t laugh will like this book. Readers who admired Bogart and Bacall will like the interplay between Manny and Reina. Readers who know about the so-called Drug Wars might find The Devil on Eighty-five interesting.
Please visit my Facebook page at Devil’s Kitchen by Clark Lohr.  I currently post there more than I post here at http://www.clarklohr.com  and please have a look at Deborah J. Ledford’s Southwest novels of psychological suspense at http://tinyurl.com/aqgz6b6

The Next Big Thing: I’m writing a second crime novel called The Devil on Eighty-five.

Image

Terry Ambrose (he wrote Photo Finish) tagged me for The Next Big Thing game, where authors talk about what’s coming next. Before I start talking about The Devil on Eighty-five I want to show you Terry’s blog page.  It’s terryambrose.com     

The Next Big Thing format runs in a Q&A. Here’s the Q & A for The Devil on Eighty-five…

Title:  The Devil on Eighty-five.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I read Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway and got interested in Arizona’s forbidding western deserts. I learned about Ajo, Arizona, and Rocky Point, Mexico, and about Arizona State Route 85.  By day it’s a tourists’ highway.  By night, it’s a smuggling corridor.

What genre does your book fall under?

Crime fiction.  Subgenre: Border noir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

You got me there. My detective hero, Manny Aguilar, is a big guy in his forties who is not “cute.”  Handsome, maybe, but not boyish–and he’s got that slightly crooked nose–and, when you look at him, you get that sense that somebody broke it and Manny just coming until the other guy was, like, destroyed.  As for Reina, my heroine, find some tall, slim beauty in her forties with red hair and green eyes who is loving, extremely bright, funny as hell, and a pagan.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a woman is murdered on Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Nation and her husband is charged with the crime Manny Aguilar and the Goldman Law Firm step in to defend the accused, finding themselves in a parallel world where the scales of justice are balanced with guns and drugs.

Will you book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll self-publish The Devil on Eighty-five. My first Manny and Reina novel, Devil’s Kitchen, was published by Oak Tree Press and is available on Amazon and various other venues.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

My answer:  It takes what it takes. I think I can answer that better when I write my third border noir Manny and Reina novel.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jake Page’s The Deadly Canyon; Don Winslow’s Savages, or T. Jefferson Parker’s The Border Lords.  However, truth that’s stranger than fiction drives my novels and bold Mexican journalists like Ana Lilia Perez write that truth, along with Americans like Chuck Bowden and Europeans like Ioan Grillo and Ed Vulliamy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by stories about Arizona’s western deserts and by the realities of border life both inside and outside the Tohono o’dham Nation.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Readers who like to identify with three-dimensional characters who’re in situations where they’ll cry if they don’t laugh will like this book. Readers who admired Bogart and Bacall will like the interplay between Manny and Reina. Readers who know about the so-called Drug Wars might find The Devil on Eighty-five interesting.

Check out these writers I’ve tagged to participate in The Next Big Thing blog chain. They’re scheduled to post the week of December 3rd, 2012.

MAR PRESTON, SoCal author of No Dice and other smart mysteries, blogs at http://www.marpreston.com

ANA MANWARING, award winning NorCal author, blogs at http://www.anamanwaring.com

J. MICHAEL ORENDUFF, author of the very praiseworthy New Mexico mysteries called the Pot Thief series, blogs at  thepotthief.blogspot.com  –don’t forget, like I did, it’s thepotthiefDOTblogspotDOTcom.

And again, check out author TERRY AMBROSE at http://www.terryambrose.com

For more “tagger stories” check out:  booksgoneviral.blogspot.com

Please visit my Facebook page at Devil’s Kitchen by Clark Lohr.  I currently post there more than I post here at http://www.clarklohr.com