Book Review- “Dangerous Ends” by Alex Segura
As a fan of Pete Fernandez, the protagonist of Alex Segura’s first two crime novels “Silent City” and “Down the Darkest Street,” I’ve rooted for him to take down both a legendary hitman and a deadly serial killer. They were harrowing struggles, but I’ve rooted hardest for him when he was locked in his most difficult and frightening battles; accepting that he’s an alcoholic and that he should be putting his knack for investigation to use as a private investigator. In those first two books Pete was a likable character almost in spite of himself. He’d go on a bender or step away from investigation and into something that didn’t suit him and I would actually yell, “NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” at the book.
So it’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to see Pete move onto a new phase in his life in Segura’s newest novel, “Dangerous Ends,” which finds Pete working as a P.I. and regularly attending AA meetings. That doesn’t mean things are any easier for him. When we catch up with Pete at the beginning of the book works has become kind of a rut and throughout the novel his struggle with sobriety is pretty fascinating. There’s almost a sense of him rediscovering and trying to figure out what life is like without alcohol that feels authentic and is pretty compelling. I especially enjoyed the scenes where the two aspects of Pete’s new life collided and he suddenly found himself in a bar because of a case.
Speaking of cases Segura gives Pete and his investigative partner Kathy, who’s managed to turn their past exploits into a career as a journalist and true crime writer, a pretty compelling one. In “Dangerous Ends” the daughter of a Miami police detective who was convicted for the brutal killing of his wife tasks Pete and Kathy with finding evidence to get her father a new trial. That sends them to both upscale and seedy areas of Miami and also leads to some exciting and explosively violent confrontations as Pete and Kathy are hunted by a violent and powerful gang of killers.
It also leads to some memorable character interactions. Former FBI agent Robert Harras returns in this book to help Pete and Kathy out whether they like it or not. The dynamic between the three of them is pretty great. The best returning character though has got to be Dave Mendoza, Pete’s affluent friend and former boss at a used bookstore. In “Dangerous Ends” we get some glimpses into Dave’s former life with the Miami underworld and how far he’ll go to protect his friends. Those were some of my favorite scenes in the book. I’m hoping that someday Segura will give Dave his own book.
So “Dangerous Ends” has some great characters, fun action, and a really interesting case, but what makes the book so powerful and compelling is how the consequences of our actions, both wrong and right, are always with us. They’re part of who we are. Segura expertly illustrates that in the larger narrative with things like important and fascinating interludes that stretch back to Cuba during Castro’s rise to power. He also does it with quieter character moments too. I talked earlier about Pete’s sobriety, and another example that I found particularly cool was a passage that talked about all the things Harras must have seen as an FBI agent and how it’s etched into both how he appears and acts.
So with “Dangerous Ends” Segura provides another fantastic entry in the Peter Fernandez series that rewards longtime fans with a new status quo and an exciting and hard hitting tale that leaves his protagonist in a new place both literally and metaphorically. I’m excited to see where he goes next with this fun and incredibly satisfying series.
“Dangerous Ends” is available from Polis Book on April 11, 2017