A few weks ago we got a proposal by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) from a Mexican author who was offering us to read a novel he had written and published in Mexico. It wasn't available in the rest of Spanish speaking countries. I had a quick look at the synopsis and some things caught my attention: John Huston, The Night of The Iguana, Puerto Vallarta and cocktails... a quite interesting bunch of appealling issues. I decided to read it and to my surprise I found an excellent novel which I devoured in a couple of hours... It was Trago amargo, by F.G Haghenbeck
The novel Trago amargo, published by Joaquín Mortiz and the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (México) is one of tose stories that ‘one writes at ease, like being at home’ says Francisco Gerardo Haghenbeck (Mexico City, 1965). With this work the author was unanimously awarded the National Una Vuelta de Tuerca Award to the best crime novel.
Trago amargo is a story of intrigue, an accurate historical depiction of Hollywood, a very unique ambience and a funny compendium of the best and most famous cocktails of the world. It also has tastes of road movie, adventure and detective stories.
At the beginning of the 70s, John Huston decides to shoot his film The Night of the Iguana (based on the play by Tennessee Williams) in a virgin lanscape very close to Puerto Vallarta. An impressive crew of Holywood starts is to be part of the cast, including Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon, Deborah Kerr and Richard Burton, who is dating Elizabeth Taylor. There are more journalists than iguanas on the village, all expecting to take the best pic of the couple.
Each of the stars receives a present from the Director: a golden gun with silver bullets. But the joke turns to something serious when one of those guns is used to shot and kill someone.
Sunny Pascal, a half american and half mexican beatnick detective, is in charge of solving the crime, which soon gets complicated by further murders, blackmailing, stolen jewels and a plot that involves the Mexican mafia.
The novel keeps advancing and unveiling its mysteries chapter by chapter, amongst cocktail recipes, explanations about their origins and suggestions about the music that best fits every drink.
F.G. Haghenbeck is a multidisciplined Mexican author, -and the only Mexican who has written scripts for ‘Superman’ (DC Comics).
He is also the co-author of Crimson (Wildstorm/Time Warner 1999-2001); author of Alternation (Image Comics, 2004) and of other comics.
He now lives in Puerto Vallarta where he devotes his time to writing more Sunny Pascal novels, and also comics.