The Water of Life Remains with the Dead. By Maria Nieto. Leyla Namazie, Editor. ISBN 978-1519146182. $19.95.
This is a joint publication of Floricanto and Berkeley Presses. Maria Nieto is the Award Winning author of The Pig and Bear, also published by Floricanto Press.
Maria Nieto’s newest novel treats the reader to a fast paced drama told with grit and undercoated with humor. The story, set in 1971, is centered on the canny, spirited and charming Los Angeles Times reporter, Alejandra Marisol. Alejandra displays relentless tenacity as she delves into the bowels of corrupt city politics, shady real-estate transactions, and an overbearing Archdiocese to fish out the truth surrounding unspeakable crimes using the art of deduction and forensic science. While the story clearly demonstrates that the present is inextricably tied to the past, it does not let us forget that ordinary people have the ability to override the power of history to shape destiny.
Water of Life mysteriously flows like the ancient LA River which still runs under Olvera Street, the original pueblo of Los Angeles. Water is life and has no borders, penetrating our bones and teeth to give us clues on where we were born and where we ended our path. But as Maria Nieto writes, “But Life is never a clearly defined path. Five dead bodies in the back of a pickup truck, a cardinal with interests beyond the church, a real estate developer with ties to the Archdiocese, a possible metaphor with no known meaning, all proof that nothing was clear.” This is not your daddy’s LA Noir. Nieto is a new refreshing voice in this predominantly Anglo male genre. Her heroine is a feisty Chicana LA Times reporter that loves her Revlon lipstick, finds solace in her blue VW bug named Azulita, and is not afraid to confront the big boys that run the City of Angels like their own private palm-laden country club. Nieto uses history, culture, science, and sharp female intuition with dark humor to tell her story that will keep you guessing and smiling.
Herbert Sigüenza, playwright, actor and co-founder of Culture Clash.