After being laid off from his job as a newspaper reporter in a coastal Florida town, Dexter Vega meets a wealthy retiree who hires him to find his daughter who is supposed to be attending the local college. When Vega visits his client to inform him that his daughter is in Mexico, he discovers the man has been murdered. And Vega’s prints are all over the murder weapon.As the police build a case against him, Vega flies to Mexico City to locate his client’s daughter, hoping she will help him find the murderer and thus clear his name. But when he finds the woman, she tells him a very different story—nothing is as it seems. Beaten by thugs and ordered to leave Mexico, Vega returns home to find himself immersed in a web of blackmail, greed, and revenge. Still pursued by the cops, but now a target of evil predators.
A chance encounter in a bar leads to a new career for Dexter Vega, a recently laid-off investigative journalist at Florida's Sarasota Herald, in the pseudonymous Lopez's uneven debut. Dexter takes pity and offers a ride home to Nick Zavala, who's dressed like a bum but turns out to live in a stylish house on the bay with a museumworthy art collection. Nick, who admires Dexter's journalism work, tells his guest that his college-age daughter, Maya, has gone missing. Despite knowing nothing about Nick (and doing no subsequent research into the guy), Dexter agrees to find Maya. From a Siesta Key con man who was living with Maya, Dexter discovers that she's in Mexico. Things get complicated when Nick is murdered; Dexter becomes a suspect, and he decides to go to Mexico City in search of answers. Dexter takes a few beatings and unearths a lot of unpleasant things about Nick on the way to the contrived resolution. Too many unlikely developments weaken the plot, but Lopez's assured prose suggests he's capable of better next time.