Four young women have been killed in Cancun, the resort island in Mexico, with an ancient Maya sacrificial flint knife. At the scene of the fourth murder, a North American missionary is caught fleeing the victim’s hotel room. Everyone assumes he is guilty, even the missionary organization for which he works, which desires nothing more than damage control. There are only two exceptions: the missionary’s wife, and Luis Balam, a former traffic cop, now guide, proprietor of a small jewelry shop catering to the tourist trade, and sometime private detective. Hired by the missionary’s Mexican lawyer to conduct an independent investigation, Balam quickly finds an alternative suspect—the playboy son of wealthy real estate developer, who had cost Balam his position in the police department. Aided by the sister of the last victim, the local police inspector, and a religious cultist, Balam discovers the unsuspected truth about the missionary and about the murders.
In this, the first of a projected series about Balam, Alexander takes the reader behind the scenes of Mexico’s great tourist mecca. He presents a Mexico in which the dominant features are corruption and prejudice. Bribery is a way of life. Discrimination against the native peoples by those with European blood is also commonplace. The corruption and the discrimination are forces driving both the plot and Balam’s life.
This book is highly recommended for those readers who enjoy mysteries in exotic locals with uncommon detectives.