by Nick Davies
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Print Length: 206 pages
Publisher: YBK Publishers
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
Witty, snappy, and passionate—an action-packed mystery
Author Nick Davies incorporates elements from his travels across Latin America into his debut novel, El Flamingo. This mystery is full of adventure, vivid scenery, and Latin American culture.
With a pessimistic narrator and the looming mystery behind “El Flamingo,” Davies’ goal is to remind the reader to seize the day, no matter where it takes you.
El Flamingo follows Lou Galloway, an actor. After facing one too many rejections, Galloway becomes disillusioned by Hollywood’s greed for fresh young faces and impulsively decides to travel to Mexico and rediscover himself.
Lou’s pilgrimage turns sideways after he meets a mysterious man at a bar that leaves behind a flamingo-feather fedora. Thinking it an innocuous hat, Lou puts the fedora on and is instantly branded as the assassin, “El Flamingo.” To survive, Lou must completely envelope himself into the role, for better and quite worse.
“Maybe deep down, the lost dreamer in me that would never really die had always known that one day, I would somehow return.”
El Flamingo’s narrator Lou initially comes across as brass, cynical, and even pitiful. He has such confidence in his acting skills while battling with so much self-deprecation that first makes him an obscure character. But as the plot progresses, Lou’s internal monologue becomes comical and charismatic. I love it when thrillers don’t take themselves too seriously, and El Flamingo thrives here. The speaker’s self-awareness in his misadventure highlights the most comical and approachable moments of this fish-out-of-water story,
There are some aspects of the book, however, that raise some questions for me. As a native Spanish speaker from Latin America, there’s a lack of dialect and slang that would have been prevalent in the regions Lou visited. I wonder about Lou’s ability to understand Spanish, too. Despite being monolingual, he seems to know quite a bit in the short time he travels. I also wonder if we could have seen different sides of Latin America. The book focuses on two regions primarily, regarding a few political issues from one thoughtful but limited perspective.
El Flamingo is rollercoaster ride nonetheless. It’s fast, fun, and leaves you breathless. It has all the markings of an action/thriller with an essential mystery twist. I would recommend this book to those that are craving something adventurous and convivial.
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