By: Laura A. Zubulake
Publisher: Laura A. Zubulake
Publication Date: March 2018
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: April 22, 2018
A politician discovers that defending the poor becomes costlier than he anticipates in author Laura A. Zubulake’s debut mystery.
Forty-six-year-old Cesar Rosada is no ordinary politician. The famous football star turned Minister of Finance, Cesar never loses sight of his meager beginnings; his highest priority is to help the impoverished in his country break the vicious cycle of oppression. Making strides is slow going amid corruption, especially when opioids are involved. Cesar’s plans (Project Amalur) for citywide changes are met with opposition, beginning with a cryptic phone call.
The call is not the only situation that troubles Cesar. The mysterious deaths of a top-level administrator and a boy (who was involved in a local robbery) coupled with the lack of news coverage also weigh heavy on his mind. More disconcerting events follow that harm the agricultural sector. It’s not until a significant explosion directly affecting his parents’ coffee farm that Cesar believes that all of the incidents are somehow connected. Whether or not he can successfully identify and successfully deal with the miscreants remains to be seen.
According to Zubulake’s website, it is during her many years working on Wall Street where she was able to hone “her communication skills, business acumen, attention to detail, and sense of intrigue.” There is no doubt that Zubulake utilized these skills in the shaping of her first novel, particularly capturing the vicious cycle of exploitation within societies and governments.
A tension-filled plot from the get-go, Zubulake’s fictional Latin-American-ish setting lends plausibility to the ubiquitous corruption connected with opioids and the problems associated with people’s efforts to solve societal ills once and for all.
Zubulake surrounds Cesar, her protagonist, with a tight and well-defined cast. The characters, designed mainly as foils, keep pushing and prodding Cesar in directions that steadily test his principles. Chapters alternate between taciturn and tightly-lipped characters replete with elusively laced conversations and consistently closing on cliffhangers.
While extremely well-written, there are a couple of chapters focused on drug-related history and statistics that may bog down the narrative flow for those who are well-versed on those topics. Regardless and to Zubulake’s merit, the inclusion of such pertinent information makes for a well-rounded plot.
Quill says: Kudos to Zubulake for producing Slay the Dragon, a gripping and provocative read.