In The Spotlight: Ian Vasquez’ Lonesome Point

Hello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. One of the more popular tropes in crime fiction is when the past comes back to haunt characters in the present. And it’s easy to see why that’s popular; it can be suspenseful when it’s done well, and it can add a layer of character development to a story. Let’s see how it plays out, and turn today’s spotlight on Ian Vasquez’ Lonesome Point.

Brothers Leo and Patrick Varela grew up in Belize, the sons of a successful car dealer and his wife. But they’ve both moved to the US, and now live in the Miami area. Patrick has become a successful attorney and Miami-Dade County commissioner. He’s got a very good chance to become the next mayor of Miami, and after that, there are all sorts of possibilities. He’s being supported, too, by some very influential people.

For his part, Leo is a poet, who also works at Jefferson Memorial, which is a mental hospital. He and Patrick don’t spend a lot of time together, and don’t move in the same circles. But they are bound together by their past, and it comes back to haunt them one day.

Leo gets a visit from Freddy Robinson, whom he knew in Belize. Robinson has come to ask Leo to release one of the patients, a man named Herman Massani. Massani is in seclusion, in the hospital under doctor’s orders, and Leo tries to explain that he can’t release him. Besides, he wants nothing to do with Robinson, who’s become a convicted felon. But Robinson insists. He says that Massani has some information about possible voter fraud. If it’s true, it implicates Patrick. And, Freddy says, his ‘associates’ want that information. Again, Leo refuses. But Robinson insists on it, hinting that everyone has secrets, including the Varela brothers.

And he’s right. The Varela brothers have been keeping a dark secret from their past in Belize – a terrible incident at a place called Lonesome Point. And Freddy is threatening their security. Leo contracts Patrick, who wants to wait and see what will happen. But soon enough, events start to spin out of his control. They spin out of Leo’s control, too. It’s clear now that someone is playing a very dangerous political game – one that threatens both brothers.

As the stakes get higher, the Varela brothers have to decide what they’re going to do. And their choices end up putting them in opposite camps. Now, Leo finds himself in desperate danger from the people who want Herman Massini. He’s also got to deal with his brother. In the end, we learn about what really happened at Lonesome Point, and how it plays out in Miami.

After a short prologue, the novel progresses in two timelines: the earlier years in Belize, and the modern day. Readers who prefer only one timeline will notice this. And in both timelines, the story unfolds bit by bit, so that at the same time as we follow events in Miami, we also follow events in Belize.

The story is told from both Patrick’s and Leo’s perspectives (third person, past tense). So, we get to learn something about each brother. Both have been deeply affected by their past, but in different ways. Patrick is a married father, and eager to live out ‘the American Dream.’ He’s been quite successful, and he’s learned how the political system works, and who to call to get things done. But he’s not as much in control of things as he thinks he is.

For his part, Leo is not as ambitious. He has no burning urge to advance, and is content with his partner, Tessa, and looking forward to the birth of their first child. He’s somewhat philosophical, and more reflective than his brother.

But this novel isn’t a slow-moving, reflective novel. There is action in the story, and in places, it resembles a thriller. There’s also some ugly and brutal violence committed by ruthless people. Readers who dislike ‘onstage’ violence will notice this.

Another element in the novel is the ‘backroom dealing’ and other machinations that are so much a part of politics. In that sense, you might argue that it’s a cynical look at how people get into office, who puts them there, and how much power they really have once they’re there.

As the story moves along, we learn about the Varela family. And we see how past incidents impact the adult Varela brothers. That, too, is an element in the novel. In the way they interact, the way they approach the world, and so on, we see how lasting the effects of the past are.

The dual settings of the story are also an element in the novel. Vasquez is actually from Belize, and he places readers there clearly. The Miami/Dade County setting is also distinctive, and Vasquez highlights its Caribbean culture.

Lonesome Point is the story of two brothers bound together by a terrible incident from their past. It shows the impact of the past on the present, and how each brother has become the person he is because of that past. It shows the underside of politics, and the consequences of trusting the wrong people. But what’s your view? Have you read Lonesome Point? If you have, what elements do you see in it?


Coming Up On In The Spotlight

Monday, 15 May/Tuesday, 16 May – Sisters of Mercy – Caroline Overington

Monday, 22 May/Tuesday, 23 May –  Fatal Enquiry – Will Thomas

Monday, 29 May/Tuesday, 30 May – Never Buried – Edie Clair


Filed under Ian Vasquez, Lonesome Point

20 responses to “In The Spotlight: Ian Vasquez’ Lonesome Point

  1. Belize? How interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a writer from there before. Oh, you do introduce me to a lot of new writers, Margot!

  2. I second MarinaSofia’s comment.

  3. Well Margot you’ve excelled yourself today not only my favourite of all tropes but one set in a novel location too – definitely one for my wishlist

  4. I might to read this one because of your recommendation. My previous experience with the author is reported here:

    • Oh, I didn’t know you’d read Vasquez before, Tim. Folks, do check out Tim’s review of Vasquez’ In the Heat. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of this one if you do read it.

  5. Sounds good – I always enjoy a bit of a political theme in a novel. I can see I’m going to have to take my willpower booster again…! 😉

    • Bwahahahaha… 😉 – Don’t blame me! I got another email from Tommy and Tuppence. 😉 – In all seriousness, I do hope you’ll like this one if you try it, FictionFan.

  6. Col

    Sounds interesting Margot, but I think I ought to read his other one first before seeking this one out. In the Heat sits on the pile – unread of course!

  7. Sounds like another fascinating book to add to my TBR list. Thanks for the introduction, Margot.

  8. I love books that revolve around hidden secrets. I also enjoy intersecting plot lines. I may have to put this on the TBR list. Thanks, Margot!

  9. Yet another unusual background/setting – like most people I haven’t read any books with a Belize connection! You are taking us all around the world Margot. This one sounds very good.

    • I actually liked the Belize connection of this book quite a lot, Moira. I think it adds an interesting dimension to the story. If you read it, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  10. I kept thinking immigration would play a big role as I was reading your review, but I may have current US politics on the brain!

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