Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicklit Meets Historical Fiction: Lost in the Light


     I’m an omnivore when it comes to reading genres: literary, thrillers, chick lit, vampires, detective, paranormal, nonfiction, and, of course, historical fiction.  Regarding the latter, I’ve had my fill of Tudors and French monarchs and their mistresses. An exotic setting, especially one I'm not familiar with is always a lure. Who knew it would be San Diego? Practically my backyard (well, with a full tank and two hours).  

         Chick lit meets paranormal and historical fiction in Lost in the Light by Mary Castillo.  Prohibition, and the landline through Tijuana were fascinating.  The most vivid character portraits were of the ghost and the grandmother, but the heroine, Dori Orihuela, a police detective who has just purchased her first home, albeit a haunted one, is the force that drives the narrative.  
Please welcome Mary Castillo:        
     Lost in the Light came to life after I watched one of my favorite films, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and I thought, what if Dori Orihuela, this tough and extremely skeptical police detective befriends a ghost? Even better, he would be a swaggering bootlegger and smuggler from the Roaring '20s.
With alcohol at a premium and San Diego's proximity to Mexico, smuggling had to have been a huge industry. Research provided the background picture of San Diego in the 1920's, where there was a great battle of one-up-man-ship between smugglers, federal agents, the KKK and yes, the U.S. Border Patrol. There are photos of cars modified to hide Caribbean spirits and Tecate beer. 
Smugglers took to the air and sea; there were floating liquor stores off the California coastline where boaters could legally purchase alcohol. But bringing it back was the hard part. The Coast Guard deployed a fleet of powerful boats armed with machine guns, while the U.S. Border Patrol teamed up with Treasury Agents when they wised up to the schemes of smugglers. The Klan took a very strong stance against alcohol and there are rumors of lynching in the remote foothills.
Sure enough a man like Vicente's boss did exist. On February 13, 1933, the Times reported that a big shot liquor smuggler was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the McNeil Island Prison. I traced his address, marriage certificate and his intake record at McNeil Island. Suddenly this world came to life and, without saying too much, James McClemmy (this shadowy boss character) became the key to Vicente's demise, which brought the story together.

The story is a page turner with old flames, sexy ghosts, family obligations that we all contend with, humor, and bonds with new female friends.
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