It’s war time and the City of the Angels is experiencing a great deal of influence and intrigue from religious, communist, fascist, and government operatives seeking to control the population or to overthrown the government or to find loose women to satisfy a sailor on shore leave or just to make a fashion statement in the Barrio.
The history of the Barrio, the pachuco, and the zoot-suiters make for fascinating reading. Add to that some rioting, espionage, combat, and baseball (not to mention a love story) and Thomas Sanchez’s novel is a fast mover with just enough nostalgia for the Los Angeles of the forties to make it really interesting.
Zoot-Suit Murders reminded me of two similar stories: The Day of the Locust and the movie Chinatown (not to mention all those wonderful Philip Marlowe adventures).
Thomas Sanchez writes novels that eschew arcane literary values and instead provide a good, entertaining story with fine attention to the visual detail of his subject. Sanchez is also in the movie business, so it makes sense.
Sanchez has written several novels that sound intriguing to me, so I think I’m going to hunt them down for reading in the near future. Here is his bibliography:
- Rabbit Boss (1973)
- Zoot-Suit Murders (1978)
- Mile Zero (1989)
- Day of the Bees (2000)
- King Bongo (2003)
- American Tropic (2013)
You might want to take a peek at the Thomas Sanchez website.
I was especially pleased with Thomas Sanchez’s inclusion of the old Pacific Coast League in his novel. I remember going down to the old Lane Field in San Diego to watch the Padres play against the likes of the San Francisco Seals and the Los Angeles Angels. I always thought the Padres had much nicer uniforms, pinstriped like the New York Yankees, until later I learned that those were just their home uniforms and when they played games in another city, their away uniforms were the same sweaty gray as every other team.
The last game I went to (and watched the AAA Padres lose to Spokane) was at the new stadium, Westgate Park; the team was a powerhouse then, managed by Ralph Kiner. Now Westgate Park is a fancy shopping mall and the Padres are a Big League team. I never went to a game in the new stadium in the valley but I did see the Chargers play there a few times. Now there is a new baseball-only park right downtown, just like the old Lane Field. What goes around, right? I just wish they had called it Lane Field instead of Petco Park.