Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho

Title:  The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho
Author:  Anjanette Delgado
Publication Information:  Kensington. 2014. 288 pages.
ISBN:  1617733903 / 978-1617733901

Book Source:  I received this book as added bonus along with a book I won through the GoodReads First Reads program.

Favorite Quote:  "I wondered how many marriages were that one hateful second away from a precipice they wouldn't be able to back away from."

Mariela is of Cuban heritage. She lives in Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami that is home to many Cuban immigrants. She owns a multi-family building, living in one apartment and renting out the others. She has been married and divorced more than once. After the last divorce, she decides that being a mistress is more her style. She now dates only married men. Her current relationship is with Hector. He is married and lives with his wife in one of the apartments in the building.

On top of all this, Mariela has inherited psychic ability and is a clairvoyant. She has denied and walked away from this ability for a long time.

Now, her lover Hector is found dead, and worse, Mariela is a suspect. Owning her clairvoyant ability and solving the mystery of Hector's death may be her only way to save herself.

There is lot going on in this book. Life in Little Havana. Mariela with her life choices. Hector and his wife. The other tenants in the building. Mariela's clairvoyance and what it reveals about the other characters. The mystery of Hector's death.

From the book description, Hector's death seems to be the jumping off point for the book. However, reading the book, that event occurs well into the book. For a while, I kept turning every page waiting to get to the big event. It occurs too late in the for me. The reaction perhaps would have been different had I not been anticipating the event since the beginning of the book.

Mariela's character, unfortunately, is not a particularly likable one. It starts with her statement on page 2 of the book, "I'd played the role of the betrayed wife twice before. Wasn't I entitled to be on the other side of the broken vows for a change?" The first descriptions of the book are of her assignation with her married lover!

The ideas of marriage vows and relationships are a central one for the book. Mariela's entire lifestyle develops as a reaction to her husbands' lack of respect for their marriage vows. Hector's wife Olivia, in this situation, is the grieved wife with the additional burden that she sees her husband's mistress on a daily basis. Abril, one of Mariela's other tenants, is a single mother with her own history of relationships.

Mariela's clairvoyance seems almost tangential to the entire story. It plays into the solution to the mystery, but the answer to "who killed Hector" could easily be built without it. It is somewhat unclear what this aspect of the story adds to the book.

The most intriguing part of the book to me is the descriptions of life in Little Havana - a setting I have read little about. Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th Street) is an actual street in Miami, and is considered a main thoroughfare of Little Havana. It's a little west of downtown Miami and about 15 minutes from South Beach. The glimpse into Little Havana and its culture is enlightening.

The book has a mystery, some intriguing descriptions and an interesting look at the sanctity of marriage. Ultimately, though, it's not quite the book for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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