It all starts with the murder of INS agent Kiko Vigil, shot by an unknown gunman in a Larimer Street bar in Denver where he was drinking with the wife of Elías Garza, a major smuggler of illegal immigrants. Private investigator Danny Mora, known to his oldest friends as Moony, is hired by a colleague of Vigil's to look into the shooting. Did Vigil make the fatal error of sleeping with Garza's beautiful wife, or is that just a cover story? Was the INS on the verge of ruining Garza's business? Moony's quest for the truth leads first to his old nemesis, Garza's sleazy attorney Victor Delgado. Soon the sleaze factor is surpassed by blood as the bodies begin to pile up. Like Manuel Ramos's earlier series of crime novels featuring Luis Móntez, Moony's Road to Hell is populated by aging idealists who remember the glory days of Chicano activism in the 1970s. This noir thriller tinged with sharp social commentary will attract new fans to an author known as a founder of the Chicano/Latino mystery genre.
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The Bloomsbury Review: "Manuel Ramos has skillfully built a theme of dramatic and disturbing betrayals. ... [The book] offers non-Hispanic readers insights into a world they may never have experienced. His characters are richly drawn with an outward appearance of being successful high achievers, but underneath they are deeply flawed. The plot is engaging, a page-turner ... Ramos has offered us a skillfully crafted tale, with a strong dose of pathos relieved by tender memories of the relationship between two compas, Chacho and Moony."
Publishers Weekly: "Noir fans won't want to miss Moony's Road to Hell... ."
The Houston Chronicle: "Promoted as a noir thriller, a description it lives up to, Moony's Road to Hell brings to mind the big-screen crime stories of the '40s with their complicated heroes and sinister situations. Yet the references to Chicano causes and culture make it a novel that defies easy comparisons."
The Rocky Mountain News: "The book's strength lies in the carefully observed people who vividly live their lives in its pages."
The San Antonio Express-News: "Ramos blends his signature Chicano/Latino mystery with noir and it works, with Moony being the dark knight and the bad guy's wife, Lorraine Garza, as femme fatale. ... Ramos skillfully crafts his setting in a culture--the lives of successful, middle-class Latino Denverites. ... Like Chandler ... the structure of Ramos' book is less a plot, and more a straight, inexorable march to ruin, as the title suggests. Ramos pulls no punches."
Southwest BookViews: "Ramos spins a much darker and more violent tale here than in his previous books; noir fans will revel in the journey."
Multicultural Review: "At first the characters seem poorly conceived, but as the story progresses, they become complex, motivated, human. You begin to care for them, and you mourn for those who are murdered. This is a fascinating detective story--fascinating but tragic. For as the title tells it: This novel is a road map to hell."
The Poisoned Pen newsletter, Booknews: "Nice to see Denver lawyer Ramos, often called the father of the modern Chicano crime story, back with a new book ... . Ramos has a touch of both Taibo and Sallis."
Booksnbytes: "A beautiful, fluid and masterfully written novel. ... It's ending left me in shock, slack jawed at what had just happened. You could not find a higher standard of writing than the one found in this definitive work."
Plots With Guns: "A tight slice of noir that begins with the murder of an INS agent and then gets messier. Illegal immigrant smuggling, secret relationships, blood and guns in the still wild West. We're strong on this one."
Contentment By Design: "Ramos is as sharp as a blade glinting under a street light. A dark, soulful portrayal of life lived at full speed, no regrets, and no rewards, save for a dozen yellow roses on your grave. But maybe that's enough. Beautifully written."
Mystery One Bookstore Reviews: "Ramos has outdone himself once again with this book. From the backdrop of Denver and its close knit Chicano community to the sparsely inked and extremely visual violence ... , Ramos has created a tale at the same time both desolate and full of hope. Characters jump from the page. The setbacks along the way become personal. Right up to the last page you root for Moony to get to the truth of the tale. And the end? Brutally honest."