Desperado: A Mile High Noir


by Manuel Ramos

ISBN: 978-1-55885-770-4
Publication Date: March 30, 2013
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 244

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This gritty novel set in Denver features blackmail, murder and gang warfare

Gus Corral can’t quite believe it when an old high school buddy he hasn’t seen in years asks him for help. Artie Baca looks as cool as ever; the hippest guy in high school now looks like a GQ cover boy, Chicano style. And like always, Artie has women problems, even though he’s married. 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.

Gus’s life hasn’t been as successful; he manages his ex-wife’s second hand shop after losing his job in the recession and claims to also work as the night watchman so he can live there too. He can really use the money Artie is offering and agrees to help, even though he knows Artie probably deserves the shake down.

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 the 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.

Manuel Ramos returns to novel-length crime fiction with this gripping story that twists and turns like a roller coaster, where the outlook is grim and there’s no honor among thieves.


Finalist, 2014 International Latino Book Award for Best Novel-Mystery; Winner of the 2014 Colorado Book Award for Mystery

“As invigorating as a dip in a Rocky Mountain stream.”
—Mystery Scene Magazine

“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.”
—The Denver Post

“Desperado is a page turner that keeps you hooked…It’s a gritty tale written vividly and clearly in a compelling style.”

“Manuel Ramos’ clean prose style—sometimes dark and grim, sometimes wickedly funny—sets the mood perfectly. The contrasts are sharp, the shadows are deep. Everyone has an agenda. In this noir world, one good punch in the nose deserves another, though you never know when it’s coming.”
—Don’t Need a Diagram

“Edgar Award finalist Manuel Ramos writes some of the smoothest mystery fiction I have encountered in a long time.”
—Third-Chance Book Reviews

MANUEL RAMOS, an attorney who also has taught Chicano literature courses at Metropolitan State College of Denver, is the author of several crime fiction novels. He was born in Florence, Colorado. One of his grandfathers was a coal miner and the other a veteran of the Pancho Villa’s army. His father, a construction worker, and his mother raised Manuel to appreciate education. He graduated from Colorado State University with honors in 1970, and received his law degree from the University of Colorado in 1973.

After a few years in private practice, Ramos accepted a staff attorney position with the Denver legal aid program, and the bulk of his legal career has consisted of providing legal assistance to the indigent. Today, he is the Director of Advocacy for Colorado Legal Services, the statewide legal aid program.

Manuel Ramos is the author of numerous crime fiction novels, including The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz (1993), Blues for the Buffalo (1993), The Ballad of Gato Guerrero (1994), The Last Client of Luis Móntez (1996), Moony’s Road to Hell (2002), and Brown-On-Brown (2003). Most of these novels feature Ramos’s popular Chicano detective, Luis Móntez, and several have garnered critical and popular recognition such as the Colorado Book Award and the Chicano/Latino Literary Award (University of California at Irvine), as well as an Edgar nomination from the Mystery Writers of America.

In King of the Chicanos (2010), Manuel Ramos paints a gritty and convincing portrait of Ramón Hidalgo, a fictional leader of the Chicano Movement who struggles against oppression as well as his own personal demons. His fourth coming novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, is set to be published by Arte Público Press in early 2013.

He is co-founder of and regular contributor to La Bloga (, an award-winning Internet magazine devoted to Latino literature, culture, news, and opinion.

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