Alex Segura has been turning out solid Miami-based PI novels for a number of years now, but with Blackout – the fourth book in the Pete Fernandez Mystery series – his cachet is about to catapult to a whole new level of appreciation. Blackout brings to fruition the seeded potential that was so effectively planted in the earlier novels.
Blackout takes Pete Fernandez way into his past, as readers become privy to flashbacks of his youth – specifically, a disturbing incident that resulted in the disappearance of girl Pete had a crush on back in high school.
When a new case seems to have ties to the unsolved mystery surrounding that girl’s death, Pete finds himself drawn away from his new life in New York City, back to the familiar stomping grounds of Miami, Florida. It is the guilt surrounding this earlier incident that instigates his interest in the newer case; but it doesn’t take very long before Pete begins to see connections to La Inglesia de la Luz – a cult-like community once lead by the charismatic Jaime Figueras. Long thought to have disbanded, there are rumors that factions of this enigmatic cult still exist.
With the help of Jackie Cruz and Kathy Bentley, Pete sets out to figure out what this connection is and lay to rest the ghosts of a past that continues to haunt his mind. Though multiple viewpoints, Alex Segura ratchets up the intense plot and manages to keep full control over the multiple timelines that weave together like the busiest and most convoluted of city infrastructures.
Alex Segura is a master at using music as touchstones to orient the reader in time. Every reference to songs and bands within Blackout rings authentic and immediately gives readers a sense of where they are in Pete’s life. Crime fiction and music have long had a bonded relationship and Blackout will now be a seminal work in how to effectively blend these two arts in a compelling and enriching way.
As stated, Blackout is the fourth book in the series and the entire overarching storyline has been heading towards this moment. What is truly astonishing is how Alex Segura manages to navigate this complex backstory with enough depth and detail to allow new readers to enjoy this book, without providing so much information that long-time fans feel like they are wasting precious reading time on repetition from the past novels. It is rare when those that have been there from the beginning and those experiencing the author for the first time can equally enjoy a later-in-the-series novel.
The scene involving a political rally that occurs at the end of the second section of the novel is just one of many vibrant and effective sequences worth highlighting: this relatively brief tableau is vital to the structure of the novel – it’s electrifying energy and emotional content fuse together to create a catalyst for all the action moving forward. Both suspense authors and thriller writers should look at this scene as a blueprint for success.
While all of this is going on, Alex Segura must also keep in mind that Pete Fernandez is struggling with his sobriety. Every step Pete takes contains the potential to send him reeling back to his drunken days or forward to a more enlightened future. This return to Miami manifests the step of making amends in the 12-step program. Pete is returning to the scene of so much hurt and baggage in an effort to right the wrongs of his past. If he survives it, he can continue on his healing journey.
It may seem like hyperbole, but it seems that Alex Segura’s career will now forever be delineated as before-Blackout and after-Blackout. This book is that good; you simply don’t want to miss it.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.