THE CONCRETE MAZE
BY STEVEN TORRES
By K. Robert Einarson
The Concrete Maze is a story told by Marc Ramos about the
disappearance of his cousin and his uncle's quest to find
her. The police seem uninterested in locating the missing
thirteen year old so they travel into dark corners of New
York City that tourists try hard not to see to get her back.
But the world of drugs and prostitution that his cousin
disappeared into is unforgiving and what they find there
changes both of them.
This novel is a departure from Torres "PRECINCT PUERTO
RICO" series. This novel is darker, the themes more
disturbing. Torres uses the perspective of Marc to put the
reader the role of the sometimes somewhat unwilling accomplice.
Tio (Spanish for 'Uncle') Luis pulls Marc with him day after
day and forces him to put himself in danger often so Luis
may get his beloved daughter back.
The central theme to this novel is family. Luis is willing
to sacrifice everything he has to recover his daughter and
that same sense of family motivates Marc to help his uncle.
The irony here is that Luis routinely puts Marc in harm's
way to get his daughter back.
The style that Torres used in this novel is very personal.
The story is heartbreaking in places and angry in others.
Torres captures the profound pain of Luis and the conflict
in Marc to help the family but avoid being pulled into the
dark world of drugs, guns and prostitution that his cousin
found herself in.
And while the story is told in first person by Marc, the
central character to the story is Luis. His motivations
are sometimes clouded and his relentlessness in his pursuit
felt disconcerting to me. I was uncertain if Luis was going
to destroy himself and I felt Marc was uncertain as well.
But this is the hallmark of a good story where you feel
invested in seeing how it all turns out.
The Concrete Maze is a solid novel that shows that Torres
can write excellent hard-boiled mysteries. I look forward
to his next novel.
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