Saint Death plays out on the borderland of Mexico and the USA. It’s the story of Arturo, who has one night to play a deadly card game to save his friend Faustino’s life – Faustino having fallen into working for a street gang in Juarez, connected to the drug trade.
It’s a story about power, lies, and friendship, and it’s about what happens we be build fences between rich communities and poor ones, and then try to pass things of value (i.e. drugs, guns etc) across those borders.
Hovering in the background, never too far away, is the mysterious figure of Santa Muerte, (Holy or Saint Death), a ‘folk saint’ of growing popularity in Mexico and parts of the US. She’s a figure of disputed origins and disputed significance, and is worshipped by many different people from all sectors of society: the poor, the powerful, drug lords, prisoners, prison officers, police, prostitutes… the list goes on and on. If you’re interested to find out more, this video from youtube is as good a summary as any of the ‘white lady’ (who goes by many, many names).
There’s some confusion over the various icons of death that Mexico employs.
Santa Muerte is a (female) skeleton in a shroud, often depicted holding a scythe in one hand and the world in the other (the scythe suggests the more European-in-origin figure of the Grim Reaper but the ‘bony girl’ is a distinct personality).
(Other figures, such as general ‘calavera‘ (skull) icons like the one on the cover of my book, and the girl known as La Catrina, are also separate entities.)
You can read an extract from Saint Death on The Guardian’s website. It will be published on October 6th 2016 in the UK and April 2017 in the USA.