Review by Sandra Ruttan

MISSING IN PRECINCT PUERTO RICO is an intricate mystery that shows how the threads in an investigation can entangle and then disconnect. The relationship between Sheriff Luis Gonzalo and his wife, Mari, sizzles with authenticity and the dynamics of the investigation generate a palpable tension that lingers even after the last page. This is a book, and series, that should appeal to mainstream mystery readers.

The opening prologues are like getting the corner pieces of a puzzle in place, and everything that follows is examined in light of its possible connection to one or all of those snapshots. Author Steven Torres uses this framework to add to the intrigue, because as the story progresses the incidents do not necessarily connect in the way you think they will. Evidence adds new layers to the case and you soon realize that this can’t be compared to completing a two-dimensional puzzle, but is more like assembling a three-dimensional model of an intricate building.

One of my own observations with crime fiction is that it can be challenging to replicate a feeling of realism in the story. Often in real life, a coincidence can lead to a quick arrest, or one crime generates copycats who complicate and detract from the original investigation. Steven Torres has demonstrated with this story how assuming the obvious can jeopardize an investigation, and how difficult it can be to maintain a sense of order in the face of panic. Torres creates a tangible representation of Puerto Rico for the reader and also uses the developments of the story to show the foibles of human nature, and how the best of intentions can compromise the results.

The best thing about discovering an author on the fourth book of the series is that I now have three more books to enjoy, while I wait for the next new work from Steven Torres.


Sandra Ruttan is the Editor and Submissions Director for SPINETINGLER Magazine. Sandra Ruttan’s debut suspense novel, Suspicious Circumstances, will be released in January 2007. Read her interview in this issue.

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