Dear Rafe by Rolando Hinojosa centers on a Mexican border town in the weeks prior to a political primary. Jehu Malacara has been chronicling in letters the various comings and goings of the town's richest people as it relates to the event and sending these letters to his cousin Rafe. Jehu works as a loan officer for the local bank president, Noddy Perkins, and therefore has access to many of the political and financial comings and goings of the town.
As a narrator in his letters, the question of whether he's reliable or not comes down to whether the readers can believe he's giving a credible, straightforward version of the events as he knows them. While his involvement in shady land dealings does not inspire confidence in his propensity for honesty, he has no apparent reason to lie to his cousin. Or does he? And though he has been dealing with similarly unsavory characters, meaning much of what is in the letters should be considered with some skepticism, his intention to relay the events to Rafe appear to be in good faith. At first then, Jehu might rightly be considered a reliable narrator. However, once he disappears and new facts come to light through interviews with locals, questions about the veracity of the letters and what he knew begin to create fissures, demonstrating him as perhpas unreliable.
Now, P. Galindo is a writer introduced in the second half of the story who uses Jehu's letters as a pretext to interview the town's citizens after Jehu goes missing. Through these interviews, examples of lies, deceit and betrayal start to become apparent. Here, information gleaned that we thought was accurate early on changes through future revelations. However, P. Galindo's goal is pursuit of the truth, and this sets him up as a reliable narrator even though much of what we're learning as readers may be unreliable at the time we're reading it.