“I graduated from college in 1971 with degrees in engineering and computer science. I was young; I believed in my country. The government.” Jackman Quint grimaced. “I believed in democracy and freedom—that the government had the citizens’ backs. It was my duty to preserve these ideals. I joined the ROTC.  When I graduated I enlisted in the Army knowing I’d be deployed to Vietnam; I was going to be a hero.” 

But everything changed when NSA spook, Chuck Nader got hold of him.

“I did some shitty things during that war. The whole thing was a lie. Vietnam was hell. I let Nader blackmail me into drugs and moving Vietcong opium through his network to the States. Got caught. Did time. But there was more. Secrets. I can’t say how or what, but my gut is telling me they’re connected.”

Now, thirty-two years later, just as Quint has reunited with his daughter JadeAnne, lost to him in the evacuation of Saigon, and found a woman he can love, Chuck Nader has shown up in Mexico City, and he's out for blood.

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Early on the morning of September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla summoned the largely Indian and mestizo congregation of his small Dolores parish church and urged them to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain. His El Grito de Dolores, or Cry of Dolores, which was spoken—not written—is commemorated on September 16 as Mexican Independence Day. Join JadeAnne Stone and Dylan Porras at Plaza Hidalgo in Coyoacán for El Grito.

image from KXAN Austin

A man in a grey suit stepped onto the stage. Fancy-looking men and women trailed him to the chairs set up behind the podium. One of them looked familiar, Mayor Fallas. A younger man in a white-collared shirt with sleeves rolled up joined the luminaries, shaking hands and greeting some of the women with air kisses. He bustled to the podium and stepped behind the lectern, tapping the mic to test it. Live. He looked out into the audience and grinned. “¡Buenos noches, Mexico!” The crowd roared. “I’m Alonso Maldonaldo Trejo, the head of our independence day committee here to welcome you to the fiesta!” The clapping sounded like thunder. Alonso patted his hands down until the audience quieted. “You all know why we’re here—to celebrate almost two hundred years of independence from the tyranny of the Spanish Crown.” 

More cheering, whistles, shouts of, “¡Viva!”

The crowd went wild as the church bells pealed in honor of the occasion. 

When the old bells stopped reverberating, Alonso continued, “Tonight to lead us in El Grito de Dolores, we have our distinguished Alcalde Fallas, mayor of the greatest city in our nation! Let’s give him a big hand,” he said and turned to lead the mayor and his wife up to the mic, clapping over his head and grinning like a fool before backing away and sitting down. I wondered who the rest of the delegation were.

Dylan whispered his interpretation of the speech in my ear, keeping me in stitches until the smarmy egoist and his wife encircled each other’s waists and waved to the crowd. It was the clichéd photo op every politician delivered. And it was 11:59. A projectile sailed across the heads of the audience and splatted onto the stage. Alonzo scuttled out and grabbed another mic. “Countdown time! Everybody. 12-11-10-...” We shouted with the emcee, “siete...seis...cinco...”

Fallas counted down on his fingers and we all shouted with him, “... dos... uno. Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!” 

The plaza felt like it would lift off. Everywhere faces radiated joy and pride. The bells rang again, an allegro for fireworks blasting overhead and Mexico’s National anthem blasting out of the banks of speakers, “Mexicans at the cry of war, make ready the steel and the bridle...”

I apparently was the only person in the audience who didn’t know the words. Everybody sang. 

And the fiesta got under way.

The dignitaries left the stage as the band members slung guitar straps over their shoulders. The drummer tapped out a military drumroll and the lead strummed an electric chord. Firecrackers popped crazily, and where they went off the crowd parted. The plaza thinned out and again the faces of revelers shifted. The crowd looked younger. And pretty wasted. I smelled mota, pot, on the air.

The band kicked into their first song.

“Let’s dance,” he shouted back and handed me down.

“I’ll need another margarita to dance to this. Punk? Really Dyl?”

He laughed and towed me to the margarita line. I wished I had earplugs. I hadn’t appreciated punk rock when it was popular, except for the Cars and the Police, which might not technically be punk, but I didn’t really know. We hit the front of the line and got double shots again. I swilled mine and let the driving beat move my feet. The lyrics were in English. 

Dylan twirled me into the roistering mass gyrating to the driving beat. It was loud. The tenor of the evening shifted once again to something frenetic and sinister. Too many aggressive gang tats and tarted-up teens. I observed the people around me and began to feel like I’d fallen into a 21st century version of West Side Story. Call it South Side Story—and the relentless rhythm was firing up a rumble. I grabbed Dylan and jerked my head toward the pavement. Glass, broken booze bottles, trash being ground into paste under the people’s feet. We were in the middle of the mosh pit and the frenzy was a swarming hive of angry yellowjackets. I noticed the gang mudras, hand signals to friends, chin pointing, tensions rising. We had to leave, now. 

I pulled Dylan’s arm and he folded me into his chest and rocked me wildly to the beat. I squirmed away. He didn’t see the danger and grasped my hand, twirling me back in. From the corner of my eye I caught movement, not dancing. A pod of prison tats sharking through the crowd, pushing dancers out of their way, opening a path toward another school near the bandstand jigging, cheering, passing flasks and bottles between them and their girls. I caught sight of several Zs. Fear gripped me. 

I swung into Dylan and yelled, “Trouble ahead!”

He hooted and yelled, “You know it, baby!”

From Coyote~ Terror and Pursuit Across the Border, A JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure #4

Chiles en Nogada

serves 8

Recipe Ingredients for Stuffing

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 10 cloves garlic minced
1 large white onions, grated
1/2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground ham
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 1/4 cups prunes, pitted and finely chopped
3/4 cup candied citron, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
3 large pears, finely chopped
3 peaches, finely chopped
2 apples, finely chopped
1 cups pineapple, finely chopped
1/2 plantain, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes finely chopped
1/2 tbs ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
5 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs marjoram
3/4 tbs freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste

Recipe Ingredients for the Chiles

16 medium chiles poblanos (green fresh ancho peppers), roasted, seeded, deveined and soaked in salted water and vinegar for 6 hrs.
1 cup flour

Recipe Ingredients for the Batter

10 eggs, separated
1 tbs salt
3 tbs flour
2 quarts vegetable oil for deep frying

Recipe Ingredients for the Sauce

2 cups walnuts
3/4 cup skinned almonds
7 oz cream cheese
3.5 oz goat cheese
1.5 oz fresh cheese, such as feta
1/2 slice bread trimmed and soaked in milk
1 cups heavy cream or 1 cup heavy cream mixed with 1 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tbs grated white onion
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dry sherry
Salt to taste

Recipe Ingredients for the Garnish

Seeds from 3 pomegranates
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped

Recipe Instructions

Prepare the stuffing: Heat butter and oil in a saucepan. Brown 12 garlic cloves and discard. Brown minced garlic with onion. Add ground meats and saute until no longer red. Stir in raisins, prunes, citron, apricots, pears, peaches, apples, pineapple, plantain and tomatoes. cook until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.

Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, pepper, sherry and white wine. SALT to taste. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool

Fill prepared chiles with cooled stuffing. Put flour on a piece of waxed paper. Roll chiles in flour and place on a tray. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare the batter: Make batter in 3 batches, as needed or it will not remain fluffy. Beat 1/3 of egg whites with a little salt until stiff. Lightly beat 1/3 of egg yolks and 2 tbs flour to whites, folding in carefully.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Dip flour coated chiles in batter, one at a time and fry over medium heat. Do not crowed pan. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Prepare the sauce: boil walnuts in water to cover for 5 minutes. Remove from water. Peel skins. Boil almonds in water to cover for 25 minutes and soak in cold water. Peel skins. Grind walnuts and almonds in a blender or food processor, adding cream cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, bread, cream, milk onion, sugar, cinnamon, sherry and salt. the mixture will be very thick. Refrigerate.

If you are using packaged nuts, wash walnuts and almonds and follow the procedure for fresh nuts.

To serve: Place cold fried chiles on a platter. Ladle walnut sauce on top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and garnish with parsley. (Chiles Rellenos en Nogada)

Coyote fountain in Plaza Hidalgo, Coyoacán (Place of Coyotes in Nahuatl.) Photo Ana Manwaring

Blacklash Venom and Vendetta from 'Nam

Jackman Quint spent four years in prison paying his debt to society for his crimes. Now, when he has someone to lose, his past finds him.

And it’s out for blood.

A JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure #5—Quint's Story

Jackman Quint’s former CO, Chuck Nader, has a vendetta to settle. For Quint, the Vietnam war ended thirty-two years ago with a dishonorable discharge, a prison term, and his daughter JadeAnne lost to him. Shouldn’t Quint be the one with the grudge? He’s made a new life for himself, reunited with his daughter, expanded his investigations, and dipped his toe into the dating pool. Finally, life is going his way when Nader shows up in Mexico City on a top secret mission through the U.S. Embassy. Coincidence? But it’s soon clear, Nader is out for blood. And he won’t settle for killing Quint—he’s after everyone Quint loves. He’s already killed one of the team. If Quint can’t unravel why Nader is bent on his destruction, he’ll never be able to protect the team, his woman, or most importantly, JadeAnne. She flies home to Mexico City in less than a week. The days are counting down.

Backlash on sale November 15th. Watch for preorders and in-person appearances.

Join me at Sisters in Crime Norcal's Fall Showcase from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, November 12 at Books Inc 317 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA. I'll be presenting along with ten of my SincNorCal siblings. It's free and FUN!

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Author Lisa Towles
Author Ana Manwaring

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