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Book Review: Creed by Michael Chavez

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Theo Jaquez was one of the exceptions. He managed to break the cycle of substance abuse and the little-to-no-opportunity to make a life reality that permeates the immigrant Mexican culture in the American southwest like a cancer. He had put himself in position to have a real chance to lead a better life. But almost overnight, a convergence of unfathomable occurrences threatened to rip everything apart. This is the intriguing fictional story told by author Michael Chavez in his new book Creed. It’s a story ultimately well told.

Creed is a multi-faceted book that weaves together several related and relevant sub-stories. At its core there is a classic mystery. It’s complete with both traditional and updated mystery genre ingredients, including a wrongly accused person seemingly defenseless against a mountain of circumstantial evidence, a “bad cop,” a Catholic priest with vital information to the defense that won’t reveal what he knows because it was told to him in confession. This mystery story is surrounded by related sub-stories about the continued impact of the Catholic Church, drug use, and sexual orientation on the rapidly-changing American culture. They create further interest and relevancy for the book.

Creed is Chavez’s first book but aspects of his writing suggest a more seasoned author. His characters are strongly developed, his word images are sharply drawn, and he is equal to the task of capturing the emotional range of his diverse cast. On the other hand, the evidence of a first effort is provided by the usual suspects: a slow start; a bit of inconsistent pacing and a tendency toward tangents. But, all in all, Creed is laudable work for a first book.

The book is categorized by the publisher as fiction/mystery/crime/detective. And while there is no mention of it in the back cover notes this book does contain the sub-story of an ongoing gay relationship between two of the books’ main characters. In my opinion, this content is not graphic, and in my opinion is vital to both the fictional story and to the impact one’s same sex orientation can have within our justice system. But I believe readers should be made aware of this upfront rather than discovering it on their own as I did.

Michael Chavez has turned out a solid and engaging contemporary fictional crime mystery that is riveting and relevant to today’s American culture. This first book for Chavez will likely leave many people ready to read more of his stories. I strongly recommend Creed for mystery, crime and courtroom devotees.

(Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views)

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