cover image Playing for the Devil's Fire

Playing for the Devil's Fire

Phillippe Diederich. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-941026-29-8

A severed head in the town square is the first sign of trouble in the small Mexican town of Izayoc, where new money is moving in with bloody force. As this grim murder mystery unfolds, 13-year-old Boli and his best friend Mosca become reliant on a luchador named Chicano, a masked wrestler working the amateur circuit, as a real-life hero and protector after Boli's parents go missing, and the body count mounts. The boys' lost innocence is represented with a game of marbles, which dovetails and overlaps with the disillusionment and loss of the entire community, Chicano's transformation from caped crusader to mere man as he ditches the affectations of his theatrical profession, and a host of new responsibilities for Boli, including helping to run the family business and care for a grandmother whose mind is slipping. The narration and dialogue are shot through with Spanish words and phrases, readily discernable through context, and also collected in a glossary. Diederich (Sofrito) portrays Mexico with a stark intensity and raw emotional turmoil as Boli navigates a mercilessly cruel world. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Stephany Evans, Fineprint Literary Management. (Mar.)