Ex-con Gus Corral is fresh out of jail and intent on keeping his nose clean. He’s living in his sister’s basement, which he shares with a cat or two, Corrine’s CDs and their father’s record collection. The blues music in particular strikes a chord, matching the way he feels about his current state.
Things start to look up when Gus gets a job working as an investigator for his attorney, Luis Móntez. An activist in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Móntez is slowing down and getting close to retirement, and he figures the felon can do the legwork on his cases. When María Contreras comes to see the lawyer about her dead husband’s “business partner”—someone she has never heard of who’s demanding his share of the profits of a business she knew nothing about—Móntez has Gus look into the situation.
Narrating the story in alternating chapters, Gus and Luis recount their run-ins with suspicious characters as they learn that there’s more to the case than meets the eye. The widow’s husband owned and operated a local bar, not a Mexican folk art import company called Aztlán Treasures. And word on the street is that he was murdered on his boat in the Sea of Cortez. Soon, the dead bodies are piling up and the pair is surrounded by shadowy figures that point to money laundering, drug smuggling and even Mexican crime cartels.
The follow-up to Desperado, Ramos’ first novel featuring Gus Corral, My Bad races to a walloping conclusion in a Rocky Mountain blizzard, leaving fans of crime novels—and Chicano literature—eagerly awaiting the next installment in his mile-high noir.
“One thing is almost as certain as death and corruption: Manuel Ramos’s Chicano angst. You’ll find plenty of all three in his jazzy, fast-paced, and delirious whodunits, which stand as an unparalleled achievement in American crime literature.”—Ilan Stavans
“Manuel Ramos is one of my all-time favorite authors and in My Bad he delivers everything I look for in a noir tale. Gus Corral is the guy I want on my side if I’m in trouble and Ramos proves once again he is the master of creating great characters. Clear your schedule and be prepared to read this blitz attack of noir in one sitting.”—Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
“My Bad is arguably Ramos’ finest novel. It is the people, the dialogue, the humor and the sense of place that make [it] so compelling. Ramos bring to life the old Northside, its culture, its people, its music and color. My Bad is a fine mystery with an unexpected ending, but it is also a view by an insider into the life of one of Denver’s unique neighborhoods that may one day disappear.”—The Denver Post
“Ramos captures the fast-changing landscape on the west and north sides of Denver, largely due to gentrification… The plot thickens like a slow-simmering pot of pozole. The contrast in characters is vivid. Gus is eager to do the right thing, to shed his old skin as troublemaker, a banger. Luis knows the end of his career is coming, but doesn’t know what’s next. He’s looking ahead, a bit anxiously, and taking in the fast-changing city with a touch of nostalgia. Can a Mile High Noir finish on the upbeat side? Don’t forget, the sun shines more often than not.”—New York Journal of Books