Sad news that Jerry A. Rodriguez, 46, author of The Devil's Mambo (2007) and Revenge Tango (2008), both published by Kensington, died of cancer on June 22. Jerry's first novel, The Devil's Mambo, got a lot of good press and the much-anticipated follow-up was released in May. Jerry's books feature ex-NYPD Homicide Detective Nicholas Esperanza, a man of the streets who hit the lottery and seemed to have it made until he decided that he couldn't give up the detective's life, and he tangled with Mistress Devona Love. Although I never met Jerry, we communicated a few times and I've read enough about him to believe that he was an impressive individual. There's a nice story about Jerry at the N.Y. Daily News by Carlos Rodriguez Martorell. Jerry was one of the featured writers in another recent N.Y. Daily News story entitled The Puerto Rican Murder Club. Writer Ivan Sanchez also pays tribute to Rodriguez on his blog at this link. Rest in Peace.
HUMAN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LATINO MUSIC
The San Antonio Current features a story about Ramon Hernandez, an extraordinary collector. The story by Kiko Martinez says: "Over the last 30 years, Hernandez has transformed himself into a human encyclopedia of Latino music knowledge. In the early 1960s, he began collecting literature, periodicals, recordings, photographs, and other memorabilia on Latinos in the music industry, from the crooners of the ’40s to the rock ’n’ rollers of the ’50s to anyone who has ever been associated with Tejano, conjunto, and música ranchera." Hernandez's collection is housed in his two-bedroom apartment on San Anto's southwest side. Next time I'm down there I'll have to check on whether Mr. Hernandez is offering tours of his amazing collection. Find out more by clicking here.
More sad news. We need George Carlin, and it seems it's always "now more than ever." Ruth Jordan writes about her lifelong admiration for the comedian over at the Central Crime Zone. "For those of us who had our eyes opened by this man and used his comedy as a bell weather for formulating our own ideas about the world around us, it’s impossible to think of him as gone. Because he’s part of us. And for now we swear a little and mourn a lot." Give it a click.
The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans, Carmen Tafolla
Wings Press (May, 2008)
The publisher says, "The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans, is a feast of 16 stories that skillfully combine the spiritual mission of a magical tortilla with that of a heart-transplant-bedside marriage, and the blessing of a handful of dirt with that of a cross-dressing street person. Spiced with the specific flavors of a bilingual, bicultural South Texas, it faces hypocrisy, institutional pomposity, prejudice, and modern myopias head-on with a fresh humor and a depth of human understanding that sharpen the reader's comprehension of self, culture, and the human spirit."
You can learn more about Carmen Tafolla here.
Hidden in Havana, José Latour
St. Martin's Minotaur (March, 2008)
I missed this one when it came out, but here's a blurb that caught my eye:
"Elena Miranda, a special-needs teacher, has no idea what lies behind the wall in her bathroom, nor that a ruthless Vietnam vet has come to Havana to retrieve it for his employer. The beautiful woman posing as the American vet’s wife is actually with him for only one reason: Her Spanish is fluent, his is nonexistent.
"What they are there to do is neither an easy nor a pleasant task. Another man is also after what is behind that wall, and other problems complicate the job. Shortly after the Americans arrive, Elena’s brother is murdered, and a Havana cop is assigned to the crime. Calmly but relentlessly, Captain Felix Trujillo begins to work on the murder and discovers that the dead man was hardly an upstanding citizen. He does find clues he can use, especially when he becomes aware that he is following not one but a trail of corpses.
"Hidden in Havana is a shocking story of betrayal and cunning, where the hunters become hunted, the best-laid plans are derailed by greed and virtue, and getting valuable treasure is far less important than getting out of Cuba alive."