Book Review: MIAMI BEAT by Jorge E. Goyanes

I picked up this book because it’s by a local guy and was in a local bookstore. Figured I’d support local people and whatnot. I also have a pile of Florida-set books I’m working  my way through. Figured I could add this one.

I hated it.

Sorry. I just did.

I know, however, that not all books are for all people, so let me explain. You might love it. It might be just what you need to keep you warm on cold nights. It might be your new favorite. But here is where I tell you why it’s not mine.

It’s written in a pulpy sort of style like something out of the forties or even sixties. It’s written like the sort of books I used to avoid for that very style. The bludgeon-you-with-description, egotistical, leading man and his tough-guy pals who banter with racial slurs and misogynistic “jokes” that come off as dated and boorish. I’ve come to accept it in books written back in the hey-day of pulp when that was considered acceptable — in the same way I can accept the language of Huckleberry Finn. And if the book were set back in the day, I could maybe accept some of it as a throwback, an intentional mimic. But references to Facebook and Twitter while still calling each other “Spic Boy” and saying things like “Buck is as queer as a three-dollar bill” or “how many fortunes, dynasties and countries had risen and fallen due to the whims of a woman?”

Look, I get there’s a certain amount of Cuban machismo embedded in this thing, but… It’s’ not for me.

Then, there’s the main character. I like one with a few warts (other than being a narrow-minded ass). I like one with problems (other than the “case” at hand). I don’t really care that much what the problems are. He/She can see dead people, be a zombie, a malfunctioning robot, an alcoholic, a drug addict, afflicted with bad genes, bad health, bad family members, have sleep apnea, too many ex-spouses, too many bills, too much acid reflux. Something. If he’s a guy with no real problems who loves himself — and it’s not just a surface reflex that hides his greater torment — he’s boring (to me, anyway). If he’s got a great girlfriend and happy-go-lucky buddies and a thriving business… I just find I don’t care. Sorry.

As a travel guide to Miami, it’s not bad. Hits on some of the better-known restaurants, lets on to the popular dishes and enough history to make you feel you’ve read a few of those metal plaques on a tour. And, while I suppose it has a local’s view of the weather, the guy doesn’t seem to ever be hot or cold or notice if it’s raining or sunny. Then again, I’ve only been in South Florida since the mid-90s. Maybe I’m still not fully acclimated.

Look, it’s a short little book and I’m sure it’s for someone. I’m just not that person. If you think it’s for you (and you’re in the US), I’ll be happy to send you my copy. Gotta clear out some of these book piles anyway.

Pros: Like a short tour of greater Miami with food and drink descriptions. The crime plot isn’t bad.

Cons: Misogynistic, pulpy writing style that didn’t seem to go with the modern-day setting. (Book might work better in Spanish, though I don’t know.)

Bottom line: If you need a short read and can overlook the style, give it a go. And if you’re the first one to ask, you can give it a go on me.