Overlooked Books: Jon Talton Recommends Stella Pope Duarte and Jim DeBrosse
Posted by: Keir Graff
As part of Mystery Month here at Booklist, we’re continuing, day in and day out, to ask authors to tell us which books by other authors deserve more attention. Jon Talton, whose Deadline Man received a starred review in our March 15 issue, was only too happy to oblige. And while some writers have recommended books that are reasonably well known — under the perfectly fair reasoning that the books deserve to be even better known — Talton’s overlooked books are exactly that. Neither has received a Booklist review, and I couldn’t even find a cover for the second one. So . . . happy sleuthing, and happy reading!
Although not a classic mystery, Stella Pope Duarte’s If I Die in Juarez is a powerful work of modern noir. It’s also essential reading to understand the human dimensions of the crisis on the U.S.-Mexican border. Set in its namesake city, the novel has as its backdrop the horrendous spree of murders of young women that began to plague Juarez in the 1990s. It’s told through the eyes of a 13-year-old and her friends, alone and in peril on the city’s streets. A remarkable evocation of place, atmosphere, grit and humanity in the face of evil.
Jim DeBrosse’s early 1990s mysteries set in Cincinnati interest me partly because the city is the setting of my own new series, The Cincinnati Casebooks (the first is The Pain Nurse). My favorite is Hidden City, where reporter Rick Decker is plunged into a web of intrigue surrounding a homeless man carrying bubonic plague. DeBrosse does a fine job of evoking a newsroom, and his portrait of Cincinnati is layered and intriguing.