I’m not hungry. This is usually a bad sign.
We’re at a table near the back of El Rinconcito—the “tiny corner”—a small Cuban place on 157th Avenue in West Kendall. It’s a warm day, the Miami temperatures clocking in no higher than 82. Balmy for the area, hellish and humid for anyone else.
My sponsor, Jack, is sitting across from me, sipping his Cafecito and giving me a concerned look. I’ve just dropped a whopper on him. I slide my half-eaten plate of carne asada toward the center of the table.
We’ve just hit our regular midday AA meeting a few blocks from the restaurant. I needed one. After touching base with my partner, Kathy Bentley, I’ve got a lot to think about. Maybe too much. Definitely more than usual.
My name’s Pete Fernandez and I’m a private investigator in my hometown, Miami. It’s taken me a few years to come to terms with that. I’ve crossed paths with mysterious mob guns for hire, raving-mad serial killers and weapon-smuggling drug dealers, but I’ve always tried to avoid the truth: that this is my gig, and I’m pretty good at it. I’m especially good at it when working with Kathy Bentley, a former colleague in my past life as a newspaper employee at The Miami Times. Even better at it when I’m not drunk. The not-drinking part is a relatively new development. Here’s hoping it sticks.
“You gonna take the case?” Jack asked before polishing off his drink.
“Not sure yet. Not sure what the case is, really.”
Jack cleared his throat. He wasn’t the biggest fan of my pre-case wishy-washiness.
“Anyone over the age of thirty knows the Gaspar Varela case,” he said, leaning over the table. “The guy killed his wife. End of story.”
“Some people think otherwise,” I said, motioning for the check. “And they’ve reached out to Kathy.”
“And she’s reached out to you, huh?”
“They want to see if they can find any evidence to get him a new trial,” I said, grabbing the billfold from the waitress. “He was an Narcotics cop. Perfect record before all this.”
“I’m just an old, overweight ex-cop myself, Pete,” Jack said, shrugging. “What do I know? But the whole thing sounds fishy to me. The case has been closed over ten years and you’re supposed to find one sliver of new evidence to save the day? There’s a needle comparison here.”
I laughed. He was usually right. But something nagged at me about the case. There was more to it than what Kathy told me and I wanted to find out. My curiosity was helpful in my line of work. It also got me into a lot of trouble. I wasn’t sure which it was doing right now.
I slipped a twenty and a ten into the fold and got up.
“Gone so soon?” Jack said.
“Gotta run and do some errands,” I said, shaking his hand. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day.”
“It’s starting again, isn’t it?”
It. The case. The next obsession. The dance around the darkness, where I get close enough to maybe pull someone out, but also risk getting myself dragged in. I’m not sure I can survive another bout like the one from last year. Jack doesn’t think so, either.
Pete Fernandez has settled into an easy, if somewhat boring life as a P.I.. He takes pictures of cheating husbands. He tracks criminals who’ve skipped bail and he attends weekly AA meetings The days of chasing murderous killers are behind him. Or are they?
When his sometimes partner Kathy Bentley approaches him with a potential new client, Pete balks. Not because he doesn’t need the money, but because the case involves Gaspar Varela, a former Miami police officer serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife – one of the most infamous crimes in Miami history. The client? None other than Varela s daughter, Maya, who s doggedly supported her father s claims of innocence.
As Pete and Kathy wade into a case that no one wants, they also find themselves in the cross-hairs of Los Enfermos, a bloodthirsty gang of pro-Castro killers and drug dealers looking to wipe Pete off the Miami map. As if trying to exonerate Varela wasn’t enough, they find themselves entangled in something even older and more surprising–a bloody, political hit ordered by Fidel Castro himself, that left a still-healing scar on Peteand his dead father’s past.
Fast-paced, hardboiled and surprising, Dangerous Ends pushes Pete Fernandez into a battle with a deadlier, more complex threat, as he tries to shake off the demons haunting Miami s own, sordid past.
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About the author
Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the Miami crime novels featuring Pete Fernandez, Silent City and Down The Darkest Street. The next Fernandez mystery, Dangerous Ends, will be released in April 2017 via Polis Books.
He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed Archie Meets Kiss storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, Archie Meets Ramones and the upcoming The Archies one-shot.
He lives in New York with his wife and son. He is a Miami native.
All comments are welcomed.
Dangerous Ends is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.