Billed as ”the first Cuban-American thriller,” Alex Abella’s The Killing of the Saints , brings Caribbean mysticism and eroticism to an otherwise standard-issue Los Angeles private-eye novel with mixed results. Attorney Charlie Morell is a court-assigned investigator for indigent defendants. Havana-born and Ivy League-educated, Charlie has left his Florida practice after a scandal involving sexual improprieties with a murder suspect.
So what kind of case do they give him in L.A.? A Cuban who faces six murder charges in a jewelry store holdup, natch. The client’s story? As a member of santeria, a shadowy Cuban cult with African origins, he says he was in a religious trance and remembers nada. Investigating this case involves our hero in a quest for his own past and tempts him with sexual improprieties spicy enough to curl Castro’s beard. But most readers will catch on to Charlie’s betrayal several chapters before he does. And all the arcane lore and witty dialogue can’t make readers respect a detective who’s a fool about a dame. B-