In the city of Ciudad Juárez, one gang was responsible for eighty-five percent of all the murders committed during the peak of the violence: Los Aztecas. Born in the prisons of Texas as Barrio Azteca, this gang rose to become the premier dealers of death in the cartel wars, and continues in that role to this day. Into this maelstrom of violence, three people struggle to put at least a few of the wrong things right, even if it means their lives.
Flip Morales went to prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and joined Barrio Azteca behind bars to keep himself alive. And though he wants to play it straight when he returns to his hometown of El Paso, the gang does not allow him to walk away, and only by committing the ultimate betrayal can he possibly dig his way out from under them. When he meets a girl he comes to love, the need to escape grows even stronger.
The El Paso police force does its part to contain the gang violence on the Mexican side of the border, and Detective Cristina Salas balances life as the single mother of a mentally handicapped child with the desire to make the streets safe. She’ll cross paths with Flip in the most dangerous way, and though she wants to see him come out the other side of this in one piece, she must also use him to her own ends.
Meanwhile, in Juárez, a federal policeman named Matías Segura makes Los Aztecas his life’s work. Backed by a system without the resources to fully combat the cartels, he is not alone in his task, but he is badly exposed. Los Aztecas know who he is, and the know where he’ll be. If he can act against them with the right level of precision and violence, he can stop them from doing the same to him. Perhaps Cristina can help, perhaps not, but the time for inaction is over.
Nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger.
“Haunting . . . recalls the best of James M. Cain.” — The Financial Times
“A fascinating, tense, and engaging read that draws you into the lives of the characters with consummate ease until you reluctantly turn that final page.” — Crimesquad
“A beautiful, compassionate, gruelling novel, as ferocious to read as it is soul-wrenching. . . . This book will haunt you for a long, long time.” — Ken Bruen
“[The] book roars into gear as a bluntly forceful hard-boiled thriller that also manages to address, movingly and respectfully, it’s troubling subject matter.”— Publishers Weekly
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