‘Down the Darkest Street’: seeking redemption and a killer in Miami

Hardcover, 304 pages, Polis Books.
Hardcover, 304 pages, Polis Books.

A character’s redemption — and how he pulls himself out of the lowest depths of his life — infuses Miami native and former journalist Alex Segura’s second novel.

And Pete Fernandez — introduced in Segura’s first novel, Silent City — has failed at just about everything. He has been fired from his job as a copy editor for the Miami Times, has no friends, little income and even floundered at being a private detective. About the only thing he seems to be good at is drinking, and angering people, which is why Down the Darkest Street opens with Pete being beaten in a drunken stupor behind a Coral Gables bar.

Finally joining AA, Pete begins to pull himself together to hold down a part-time job at a bookstore, though having his ex-fiancée, Emily, stay with him after she leaves her husband plays havoc with his emotions. But Pete gets a chance to use his skills as a journalist and private detective when he and newspaper columnist Kathy Bentley decide to look into the disappearance of several young women in Miami.

Down the Darkest Street is strongest when it focuses on Pete trying to rebuild his life (and sometimes failing). Pete isn’t the most likable character — he’s prone to a quick temper and more than once will crawl back into that bottle. But Segura makes us care about Pete and his struggles with alcohol, which are realistic.

Too often the book succumbs to clichés in plot and supporting characters. The FBI agents’ antagonistic attitude toward Pete and their conversations are a bit too boiler plate, and a couple of plot twists are predictable. But Pete and his journey through the streets of Miami are appealing, especially when he frequents such landmarks as JohnMartin’s, Randazzo’s and the Gables Pub.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed this book for the Sun Sentinel.

Meet the author

Alex Segura will discuss “Down the Darkest Street” at:

▪  8 p.m. Tuesday at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables

▪  7 p.m. Thursday at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach