Home > Book Review > Book Review- “Down the Darkest Street” by Alex Segura

Book Review- “Down the Darkest Street” by Alex Segura

Down the Darkest StreetOne of the things I loved about Alex Segura’s debut novel “Silent City” was that it was something you don’t often see in the private detective genre, an origin story. In the book you got to follow disgruntled, hard drinking Pete Fernandez on his journey from worker at a Miami newspaper to becoming a private detective. It was a rare tale for the genre and did some incredibly cool things. So I was excited to see where Segura took Pete in his follow up book “Down the Darkest Street” (which will be available April 12th. I was lucky enough to score an ARC) Having just finished the book I’m happy to report that in it Segura has once again done something cool and different with Pete. He’s shown that the origin story can be a much more complex and entertaining tale that involves more than a person deciding to become something.

In crime fiction life is often complicated, brutal, and messy. Discovering your true calling doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be better and your personal demons will be silenced. Or you can be great at something and because life gets in the way you fail miserably. So the origin story is a great heroic thing, but it’s nice to see here that becoming who you are meant to be isn’t always a linear journey. As Segura expertly shows, some times it’s a case of one step forward and three steps back.

That’s what happened with Pete when Segura picks up with him in “Down the Darkest Street.” He tried being an unlicensed private eye and failed. He’s living on some savings and passing the time working in a friend’s used book store. Plus he’s wrestling with his alcoholism and haunted by all the violence and death he witnessed in the previous book. So he’s in a pretty realistic and dark place.

Pete is also still very much a mercurial tempered person who often makes poor choicesSegura and can be a real jerk at times. So he’s a hard person to like, but he’s a fascinating character to read about and root for. That’s because even though Pete might not see it in himself Segura’s prose shows us that Pete is a capable and cunning investigator who genuinely wants to do good. So he’ll disappoint you and break your heart some times by being a jerk, but like the few friends he has left at the beginning of the novel, you root for him to make the right choices and do good because you see his potential.

In “Down the Darkest Street” Pete is once again thrust into situation where he can do a lot of good or a whole lot of damage to himself and the people around him because Miami is once again being menaced by a dangerous and shadowy killer, but unlike the Silent Death (the antagonist of “Silent City”) this killer isn’t a professional one. He’s a serial killer. I don’t want to say much about the killer and spoil anything, but I will say he’s a pretty creepy villain that you want to see brought down and there’s some fun reveals about him.

Some of the surviving characters of “Silent City” also return like Pete’s ex-girlfriend Emily, and her jerkass husband Rick, but my favorite returning character is Pete’s friend Kathy, who’s working as a reporter in this story. I love that Kathy is a noble, but human character and that she doesn’t suffer Pete’s B.S. with a smile They’ve got a fun rapport.

We also meet a number of fascinating new characters like two FBI agents investigating the same murders as Pete, and Pete’s good natured, burly, and burnout friend Dave, who owns the book store Pete works at. Dave is probably my favorite new character. Early on in the book you see that he is prepared for violence and can handle himself in a fight and Segura also hints at his connections with certain elements of the Miami underworld. So Dave is almost kind of a burnout muscle figure for Pete. I love those types of characters in private eye fiction.

The other major character in “Down the Darkest Street” is of course the city of Miami. It’s Segura’s hometown and he shows it by really giving you a sense of the city. Too often when we see Miami in fiction it’s all glitz, glamour, and beautiful people and places. In this book you get some of that, but Segura also shows you the decadence and grit lurking just below that shiny, pretty surface and that the city is also home to real people struggling to get by.

The action, pace, and revelations in “Down the Darkest Street” are all well done. It’s a book that you will finish quickly because ultimately it’s a gritty, gripping. character driven tale of a guy struggling with his personal demons and trying to do some good while trying to come to grip with the fact that he has a knack for rooting out and confronting corruption and evil. It was a hell of a book and I can’t wait to see where Segura takes Pete next.

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