All the Clues Point to Greatness…

Denver-based mystery wins award in home state

 HOUSTON, TX June 2014—A thriller with a bit of Chicano flair, Desperado: A Mile-High Noir by Manuel Ramos has won the 2014 Colorado Book Award for Best Mystery given by the Colorado Humanities.

Since its founding in 1974, Colorado Humanities has inspired the people of Colorado to share and apply the wisdom and inspiration of the humanities and to appreciate the state’s diverse cultural heritage. Each year, Colorado Humanities provides opportunities to more than 200,000 people to enrich individual lives and inform the community experience.

In Manuel Ramos’ return to crime fiction, his protagonist Gus Corral can’t quite believe it when Artie Baca, an old high school buddy he hasn’t seen in years, asks him for help. He’s being blackmailed because of an imprudent fling—caught on video, of course. Artie has a prosperous real estate business and can afford to pay off the young girl, but he’ll reward Gus handsomely for his help in convincing her that there won’t be any future payments.

But before Gus can deliver the money, Artie is dead and the police want to know why the deceased was carrying a check made out to his old high school chum. And when an armed stranger breaks into his sister’s shop in the dead of night, Gus knows there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. An investigation into Artie’s involvement in the gentrification of Denver’s north side leads to harrowing encounters with dangerous criminals, both from the area and south of the border. Suddenly Gus is ensnared in the theft of one of the most revered religious symbols in the Catholic Latino world, a cloak bearing the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe. He’s caught between warring gangs, and soon he and the people he cares about most are in a life-and-death predicament. This gripping story twists and turns like a roller coaster, where the outlook is grim and there’s no honor among thieves.

The book has been well-received. The Denver Post said it is “a dark mix of North Denver gangsters and Catholicism, but it’s [the] setting that really grips readers. Nostalgia is combined with reality…Ramos gets it right.” It also won an Honorable Mention at the International Latino Book Awards in the Best Mystery Novel category.

Manuel Ramos is the recipient of several literary awards and the author of numerous novels, including King of the Chicanos (Wings Press, 2010), Brown-on-Brown: A Luis Montez Mystery (University of New Mexico Press, 2003) and The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz (St. Martin’s Press, 1993; Northwestern University Press, 2004), an Edgar Award finalist. He lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.