The middle volume of the author’s Managua Trilogy, following The Sky Weeps for Me (2020), introduces famous Nicaraguan detective Dolores Morales via his Wikipedia page. Though he works now as a private investigator, Morales still carries the honorific title Inspector, as everyone addresses him. His longtime sidekick, Bert “Lord” Dixon, tartly advises Morales in italics even though he happens to be dead. Lord Dixon also visits other members of Morales’ ragtag team, just to provide pithy commentary. Morales is hired by wealthy, shady Miguel Soto Colmenares to find his missing stepdaughter, Marcela. Kidnapping is suspected, but there’s been no ransom demand, and Soto is leery of calling police because of the attendant publicity. Ramírez’s shaggy plot frequently wanders down colorful bypaths and takes readers hooked by his MacGuffin through a fun house of Nicaraguan locations and people. Foremost among these are the skeletal Rev. Úrsula, who, along with sidekicks Rambo, Magic Johnson, et al., runs the Tabernacle, a sanctuary she inherited along with her title from Rev. Joshua, her late husband; and Marcela’s friend Frank, fired by Soto after oversharing with Morales. Ramírez habitually tags minor characters with handles from pop culture, like SpongeBob and Justin Bieber. What makes his novel a page-turner is not its plot twists but the delightfully unique individuals Morales encounters in his probe.

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