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Review: Border Field Blues By Corey Lynn Fayman

The second book in the Rolly Waters Mystery series, this detective novel by Corey Lynn Fayman sees the detective hired to track down the perpetrators of damage to the protected preserve of least terns at the Mexican border with San Diego, at a time when Border Field State Park separated Mexico from the US with a chain, just by the Tijuana bullring instead of the fortified double wall that now exists.

A thoroughly-researched work, this story pops with the sort of detail only garnered through living it (the old adage “you couldn’t write it” stands true) and gathering information of all kinds. It really textures this book – a novel peppered with amusing and exciting settings, characters and dialogue, such as this Mexican-flavored gem,

“You got a girlfriend, Rolly?” she said, placing the purse back on the counter.
“Not at the moment.”
“You want one?”
“I’m too old for you, Vera.”
“I’m thinking I might prefer someone more mature.”
“Compared to what?”
“Mr Pinata Pants there, bouncing off the walls, throwing his candy all over the place

It’s no wonder the book has already garnered an award at the Hollywood Book Festival 2013. But it is the grit of Fayman’s obvious love-hate relationship with San Diego and its issues with human trafficking and immigration that really glue this book together.

Rolly Waters enters the borderlines of Mexico to discover a CD at the scene of the crime – a CD called ” Jungle Love” that may hold the key to solving the mystery. Fayman uses the character of Rolly as a songwriter to great effect – Fayman also writes songs (you can hear the real “Jungle Love” on the author’s website), and as the plot opens up to the world of music, the reader can truly experience the sort of banter musicians might enjoy, such as this exchange in a music store, when Rolly buys guitar strings,

“I don’t have any nines,” he said, rooting through the drawer. “How’s about tens?”
“Any Ernie’s?”
“Not in nines.”
“I’ll guess I’ll take tens then.”
Norwood shut the drawer and stood up, tossed the strings on the counter top.
“Pussies play nines, anyway,” he said.

On his journey, Rolly has a real time of it, meeting a mysterious singer called Tangerine, gigs, guitar-playing and a few scummy characters lingering on the border, Rolly is not scared of using the more maverick approach to crime-solving, even delivering take-out to get in touch with a possible contact.

Humor and dry jokes throughout are mixed with horror to pitch this story somewhere with the sort of detective stories we see on TV these days: The Bridge, The Killing, Spiral etc. And it’s when local police officer Bonnie Hammond gets involved with a possible murder, the story picks up pace. And it’s the setting, spiced with Spanish dialogue that really gives a sheen of realism.

My only criticism, and it is a small thing, is I found the font really difficult to read after a while – 100 pages in and I’d have to break off. Typewriter fonts tend to start jiggling around for me as I read and I would have found it more enjoyable if a standard font had been used. Also, I found this book geared towards the male reader – though nothing wrong with that given the heaps of writing geared towards women these days. More male- driven writing please! Even as a woman, I prefer it.

If you enjoy mystery detective novels with a twist, this is for you.

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