Located on the border of Mexico and America is Juárez, a town built on greed, corruption and death where corporations bleed people dry before the gangs sink their teeth into them. It is a town born of climate change and pollution, destruction and the pursuit of riches, where thousands of people live in shacks and water is a precious commodity.
What if this is the logical conclusion to the world we are creating?
This is the question Marcus Sedgwick asks in the final pages of his epic novel Saint Death. I say 'epic' but really, the entire novel takes place over 36 hours and takes about that long to read. What makes it so is the entire range of emotions the reader experiences while reading it and the fact that Sedgwick tackles every major issue impacting Mexico today.
And it's not just Mexico. Sedgwick has a message and it is a message he is delivering into the hands of the young adult market. These are the people who can change the world but they can only do it through wisdom, knowledge and understanding of where the world is headed.
The story in Saint Death is deceptively simple. Two brothers Arturo and Faustino have grown up in absolute poverty. One day, Faustino comes to Arturo with a problem, he owes a very bad man one thousand dollars. Knowing that Arturo is a master cards player, Faustino begs his friend to help him out.
What do they have to lose, after all?
Predictably, things go very wrong but underneath the surface of what happens in just one day is a story that reaches back to the ancient gods of Mexico and stretches forward to the cults and gangs of the present.
"He is playing calavera with the man who will kill Faustino unless he can take a thousand dollars off him by the end of the night. Standing right behind him is the narco who abducted Gabriel from Anapra that morning".
Every character in Saint Death has a story of loss, persecution and tragedy and Sedgwick weaves these stories together in a plot that is as complex as it is compelling. This is not a book about everyone in Mexico but it is a book about the disappearances, desperation and industrial wastelands of a strip of land on the border with the United States.
I give Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend it to readers of quality literary fiction and those eager to learn more about this part of the world.
I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of this review.