The Hot Country: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

Robert Olen Butler. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2046-5
Pulitzer Prize–winner Butler's ambitious first crime novel introduces Christopher Marlowe "Kit" Cobb, an American war correspondent who has come to Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1914 to cover the country's civil war. A passionate believer in the power of a free press and the moral superiority of the United States, Kit is no mere observer. He assumes a false identity to pursue German diplomat Friedrich von Mensinger en route to a meeting with revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, and the correspondent soon finds himself up to his neck in political intrigue. The large cast includes laundress Luisa Morales, a pretty señorita with whom Kit becomes romantically involved; Gerhard Vogel, an American-born German soldier; and a resourceful pickpocket, Diego, who acts as Kit's eyes and ears. A fine stylist, Butler (A Small Hotel) renders the time and place in perfect detail, though readers should be prepared for a sluggish plot that lingers over the minutiae of the political machinations. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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