Cover image for Steal my heart
Steal my heart
Brazaitis, Mark, 1966-
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Publication Information:
Richmond, VA : Van Neste Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
272 pages ; 23 cm
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Publisher's Weekly Review

Winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Prize for The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, Brazaitis now offers a debut novel that returns to a hardscrabble Central American landscape for a vividly drawn tragicomedy. Carlton James, an American ex-pat in Guatemala, is a short, balding, smalltime pickpocket/swindler working the tourist hotels of Panajachel. He double-dips his U.S. victims by stealing their cash at night and acting the benevolent fellow countryman by day, offering them an "emergency" loan that the grateful victims will pay back by sending a check to Carlton's "charity foundation" once they get home. One night Carlton is caught by his alluring native Indian maid, Rosario, and he decides to let her in on the action. The pair team up to steal wallets and jewelry before selling them in the capital. As a gringo, Carlton easily escapes suspicion from the incompetent police until they call on Ramiro Caal, a heartbroken detective-turned-farmer known for his honesty. Aided by a local Peace Corps volunteer, Ramiro solves the case with basic detective work, though when they go to arrest Carlton and Rosario, they feel pangs of guilt and sympathy for the fates of the petty thieves. That is, until Brazaitis's strong characters begin to spin like pinwheels, pushed by a force that sets them on a course for disaster. Confronted by the police, Rosario holds the three cops at gunpoint as she convinces Carlton to flee the country, but things get worse in the ensuing scuffle. The pair are separated and end up planning a jailbreak, with tragic results. The intense finale showcases Brazaitis's keen prose style and ends this Guatemalan love adventure on a luminous, dramatic note. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved