Author: Gabino Iglesias
Publisher: Broken River Books
Release Date: October 2015
As Zero Saints gets underway, enforcer and drug dealer Fernando is snatched off the street by a posse of heavily-tattooed gangsters and bundled into their car. They drive him to an abandoned house, where they proceed to dismember one of his associates in front of him. Disturbed by the sheer brutality of what he has just witnessed, Fernando warns his drug-lord boss, and then enlists the help of a Santeria princess, a Russian hitman and a number of other local luminaries – all of whom agree to watch his back.
While, on the surface, Zero Saints may seem like nothing more than an enjoyably violent pulp thriller, it is elevated to something far more striking by the author’s genre-trampling approach to the supernatural. The grisly, inexplicable elements of the book are among the most memorable, and yet they never feel unwieldy. Iglesias manipulates genre tropes to create something highly original, and the regular use of ‘Spanglish’ language heightens the alien mood yet further.
From the traumatic opening through to the stomach-churning finale, Zero Saints’ brisk narrative flows effortlessly – like blood in the Austin gutters. This is a gripping novella that marks Gabino Iglesias out as one to watch.
Reviewed by Tom Leins