The Miami that emerges in Alex Segura’s promising debut is a city easily recognizable by its residents and visitors alike. In Silent City, restaurants and bars to which locals flock are prominent, along with familiar neighborhoods and side streets.
Segura, a Miami native, comic book writer, musician and former journalist, further elevates his first novel with an insider’s view of the newspaper business as seen through the prism of South Florida. Although “Silent City” relies a little heavily on coincidence and includes unresolved story threads, Segura’s command of tight plotting and realistic characters keeps this energetic debut on track.
Pete Fernandez is bored by his job on the Miami Times’ sports desk, having squandered his once promising career as an investigative sports reporter. Since his return to Miami after the death of his police detective father, he spends most of his time drunk, routinely coming to work late and making serious mistakes. He’s surprised when the paper’s long-time news columnist Chaz Bentley wants Pete to find his estranged daughter, Kathy, an investigative reporter. Before she vanished, Kathy was working on a story about a famous hit man nicknamed “Silent Death,” a case that Pete's father also had been working on before his death.
Segura skillfully shows how Pete is invigorated by the chance to channel his skills as a journalist into finding his coworker. But Segura stays true to his character — Pete’s transformation isn’t instant as he is forced to take a hard look at himself.
References to real South Florida spots such as David’s Café, Le Tub and the Abbey, with stops in South Beach, North Lauderdale and Las Olas Boulevard, are well integrated into the plot. Segura is off to a good start with Silent City.