As You Look by Veronica Gutierrez is an intrigue novel that I really enjoyed. It’s the first novel I’ve read by this author, and I’m definitely going to be looking for more.
The story revolves around Yolanda Avila, an ex LAPD cop who has started a private investigation firm. Her business is doing well, but she has other issues from her past that keep intruding in her life. Her exit from the LAPD was not a happy one, and there are hard feelings on both sides. She also feels partly responsible for her mother’s death which involves what Yolanda calls juju, a paranormal ability that seems to run in her family…an ability Yolanda tries to reject in herself. Then Yolanda’s godson is kidnapped, and she becomes involved in a mystery that has more twists, turns, and possible bad guys than you can shake a stick at.
This is a very complex novel set in Boyle Heights, a real life neighborhood in East Los Angeles. The author knows this area intimately since she grew up there, so the setting is well described. We see most of the book through Yolanda’s eyes, but there are a few chapters where we get to see what the godson, Joey, is experiencing. Those chapters were actually kind of scary for me. I wanted to cover my eyes and read at the same time. There is also a fairly large cast of secondary characters, from Yolanda’s wife Sydney, her best friends and family, and the multiple folks who could be the villains of the tale. Because of the complex plot, you should take your time reading this novel. If you try to skim or read quickly, you may miss parts of the story you need to really understand what is happening.
The book is a true whodunit, not a romance. Yolanda and Sydney are happily married from the beginning of the tale, and although we do get to see some of their life together, the focus of the book is on the mystery.
I’m happy to see that this is the beginning of what may end up a series of “Yolanda Avila Mysteries”. I will be looking forward to seeing more from this author and these characters.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bella Books for an honest review.