- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (18 Jan. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 057133833X
- ISBN-13: 978-0571338337
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 889,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
City Without Stars Paperback – 18 Jan 2018
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Beautifully plotted, with excellent characterisation and a highly developed social conscience, City Without Stars is an intelligent thriller that moves at a breath-taking pace. (NICHOLAS SEARLE, author of The Good Liar)
One of those books that just won't let you go - not when you're reading it and not for a long time afterwards. An exhilarating and kaleidoscopic novel that will also break your heart. Assured, trenchant and gripping, Baker has assumed his place among those crime writers you must read. (STAV SHEREZ, author of A Dark Redemption and The Intrusions)
'An unflinching portrayal of Mexico as a country brought to the brink of destruction by the narcos. But however harrowing it gets, the novel is too gripping to put down and is lightened by flashes of hope and bursts of humour.' (Sunday Express)
'Worth the near two-year hiatus. Tim Baker has woven together another intricately plotted, multiple narrative tale. a fascinating, immersive page-turning read. For those interested in reading crime fiction based in the border territory between the US and Mexico, City Without Stars will sit alongside powerful novels like The Power of Dog by Don Winslow and The Dead Women of Juarez by Sam Hawken.' (Crime Fiction Lover)
'A powerful second novel. With all the moral uncertainties of an Ellroy or a Winslow.' (Crime Time)
A wonderful follow-up novel from Tim Baker, author of the fabulous debut Fever City... With a variety of fascinating characters, this Mexican-set epic will appeal to those who enjoyed Don Winslow's The Power Of The Dog and The Cartel... Baker is a huge talent. (Crime Worm)
'Fascinating. one of the strengths of the novel is the portrayal of the females within it. A powerful story with characters that will stay with you long after the final page.' (A Crime Reader's Blog)
'I am not sure I have the language to do City Without Stars justice. [It's] powerful, magnificent, majestic, breathtaking . an incredible piece of storytelling written with a brutal beauty and an incredible intensity. It is a dark, dark read. The violence is brutal, the corruption is rife and the people are generally untrustworthy and unlikeable. But it all makes for utterly compelling reading.' (Grab This Book)
'A tense, fast-paced thriller, its short, sharp chapters pulling no punches and sparing no gruesome detail.' (Thriller Books Journal)
An epic second novel from the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger-shortlisted and Shamus-nominated author.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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This is powerful stuff here, the story lives and breathes, the dissecting of a crime culture, the exploration of exploitation, the sheer reality and complexity that the author brings to the issue is absolutely astounding and actually I am incapable of putting into words how much this novel affects you as you read it.
I don't generally read cartel stories (Winslow aside) but I had an inkling that this one was not to be missed and I was correct - the characters engaged me, I felt every moment of it and the descriptive sense of place and people was breathtaking. Tim Baker is a true weaver of words, his sense of character depth is intuitively captivating, the writing is edgy and authentic, the violent beauty of it is disturbing on all the right levels.
If it's strong female protagonists that you want then look no further than Pilar, who I don't believe I will ever forget. There are threads running through this taken straight from reality, making it hugely emotionally resonant both in fact and fiction.
In reality there is no way to say absolutely how good this book is. The world we live in can be a dark and scary place. In the City Without Stars this is brought home in vivid, unrelenting and massively compelling ways.
Absolutely highly recommended.
No stars in the City but all the stars for the read...
The historical and social background to this story however is the real selling point. The massacres and drug wars described in the book may be fictionalised here but they are real. Devastating drug wars and needless, senseless killings of women. It’s a war every day and seeing it evoked so well here in fiction is both frightening and gripping.
Hard hitting and honest. A city ravaged by fear and more. Brutally good.
Perfect ingredients in this Mexico based thriller.
The novel has chapters titled with the various central characters. You get a full scope of their backgrounds, and how/why they came to be the people they are today. They are all driven by different motives and that is what makes this novel stand out. For the drug cartels of Mexico life is far from black and white.
The novel opens in May 2000, with victim #873 Isabel Torres. Throughout the novel we become aware of the magnitude of deaths of young women, who simply vanish from the streets. The brutality and irrelevancy of human life is hard to imagine.
‘Immunity destroys prudence.
And murder becomes mundane’ – Pilar
Pilar is a non-nonsense activist, a feminist of the highest order and respect. She has noticed a trend in the exploitation of women and the regularity of which the bodies are discovered, thrown out like trash. I admired the characters determination for social justice and drive to change the current economical situation for all women. But as you read on, you realise death stalks Pilar, as close as it stalks all women of Mexico. Pilar refuses to back down and stares death in the eye, as she chants “protection for the women! Justice for the victims”.
‘The logic of exploitation is too profitable to resist’
The organised crime of Narcos and cartels is fully explored through the characters of El Santo and El Feo. We learn how they operate and how they took such a hold of Mexico. We also learn how the war on drugs is not as clean cut as the politicians would have the citizens believe.
The cartels are ruthless, they think nothing of carrying out a massacre. Innocent civilians are irrelevant to them and their business operations. There will be no witnesses, when no one dares speak out, for fear of death….
The novels central police officer is Fuentes, his internal dialogue is an example of some fine writing. Whether he is mulling over the Mexican’s relationship with death, religion or organised crime. There are often statements of such accuracy, they leave you thinking, long after you turn the page.
‘The church itself that fed the fear and the superstition; that grew strong and rich on ignorance’
‘The church was supposed to be there to help its faithful, but too often all it did was torment its own believers’
Which leads us to the character that I became the most fascinated with Padre Marcio. The padre’s childhood is explored, and it makes for harrowing reading. I don’t think I will ever forget some of the passages I read. This itself made me wonder how such a childhood would impact the man he would become.
Would this be his prophecy and what kind of legacy would he leave behind him in his wake?
‘Most priests seemed to prefer playing devil to angel’
The novel compares Mexico’s economy and political feeling from the 1960s to the present day. I will admit that I know little of the countries history. After reading this novel, I must make a conscious effort to explore this further with my non-fiction reading. This novel leaves you under no illusion that Mexico’s history, is one that deserves to be heard.
The central theme of the novel however, is the 800+ murdered women. It has a strong crime fiction theme, despite the added depth of a literary novel. The police are baffled by the case. Is it the work of a lone killer? A serial killer with several copy-cats? Or a team of killers?
The crimes have taken place over ten years and the savagery alone should make them front page news globally. 9/10 murders are premeditated making them solvable and convictable. But when it comes to the murdered women, the police hierarchy have no interest in solving the case. With more and more women going missing. Fuentes is determined to get justice for the dead. For so many dead bodies to pile up, with no questions asked. Fuentes is sure the case has substantial links to police corruption.
‘Every corrupt cop places pressure on the honest ones; puts their lives in jeopardy’
The novel details El Santo – James Santiago aka ‘the saint’ and his uprising to head of the cartel. It also covers how the violence has escalated over into the killings of wives and children of enemies in a grotesque manner. Just when you find yourself asking why anyone would want to be part of an illegal drug cartel. We learn the figures. Cartels are big money business, more money than you can ever imagine and definitely more money than you could ever spend!
‘When revenue is up, revenge is down’
Cartels like any criminal organisation have turf wars and enemies. The Ciudad Real cartel vs the Tijuana cartel is the basis of this novel. But are the murders linked to the cartels, if so how? And which cartel?
The novel covers various themes of betrayal, retribution and justice. There is a death scene within the novel, that is possibly one of the best kill scenes I’ve EVER read! It is so clever, yet twisted and dark that I was left astounded! I also felt alarmingly, that it was completely and utterly justified! But I will let you explore that scene for yourself.
‘Trust is an odd thing. Its like love. A big emotion that grows out of nothing, that you take for granted but which devastates you when it disappears’
This novel is clearly perfect for fans of the TV series Narcos. But it is also perfect for readers who like a full exploration of the themes, setting and politics that allow organised crime to flourish. It is dark, brutal and yet so addictive! 4*
‘That’s the nature of true evil: you simply cannot imagine it… until it happens’
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