Family is often a background element in mystery fiction. Beyond the obvious biological family, detectives often have an extended family of sorts that they rely on for assistance. That isn't the case here where Marc has a very involved biological family, a problem that won't be solved easily, and virtually zero outside assistance.
The year is 1992 and the setting is
From the start this isn't something Marc wants to do but he really doesn't have a choice as he can't say no to Tio. They begin a search for Jasmine at the local indoor skating hangout known as "The Skate Key" counting on Marc's age as being a way to get other teens to talk. As they begin to look for her and ask questions they run into a wall of police indifference based on racism, kids that won't talk for a variety of reasons, and drug dealers that rule the streets. Tio Ramos is going to attack the problem the same way that he dealt with the Viet Cong in the jungles of
While NYC isn't
As he does the cynical world weary young college age student, Marc. Tio's nephew, Marc often sounds far older than his years and routinely expresses a cynical view of life, the world, and his family's place in things. Well aware that nothing can be fixed or reversed, he seeks to get the hunt for Jasmine over as fast as possible. Not because Jasmine could very well be in serious danger, but because he finds it all a bit much as she certainly needs to learn a lesson and besides that he has things to do. That sets up quickly a conflict between Tio, who sees family as everything and a reason for being, and Marc, who sees family as a burden to be tolerated.
Of course that results in conflict about strategies to employ in the search for Jasmine as well as how to deal with the other characters inside and outside of the family. While that conflict, that attention to detail could overwhelm the main theme of the work which is the hunt for Jasmine, it doesn't. Instead, it adds a depth and richness to a read full of intriguing characters, plenty of action and a twisting case which ultimately results in an intense and suspenseful novel.
The Concrete Maze
By Steven Torres
ISBN # 978-0-8439-5969-7
Mass Market Paperback
Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007, 2010