Bob Wince, an Albuquerque building contractor, is sentenced to the New Mexico State Penitentiary for a crime he didn’t commit. He is mysteriously granted an early release and declares he is fed up with accidents, or fate, running his life. Associating himself with the minor crooks and major scammers who gather at his father’s restaurant, –Dimmie’s Half-Off,– Wince vows to re-establish his life and exact revenge on those who set him up originally. This means working the system, and, according to Richard Peck’s Dead Pawn, that’s what New Mexico is all about.
From Albuquerque to Gallup, to the Navajo reservation and beyond, Peck introduces sleazy operators and hustlers in every line of work. It’s a rich cast of characters–Anglos, Hispanics, Native Americans–who populate New Mexico’s tangled sub-cultures. The priciest antique turquoise jewelry could have been made last week in Mahmad Khalil’s Gallup factory; Maria Morales may be named Hispanic Businesswoman of the Year, but she’s still Maria Losinsky, “Hispanic” only through a brief marriage to Ernie Morales.
From the moment you begin Dead Pawn, its mordant humor and crisp language will change the way you see New Mexico, “the Land of Enchantment.”
Richard Peck’s Dead Pawn is a suspense-filled mystery that is hard to put down. The story is replete with Elmore Leonard–like characters whose quirky personalities make Peck’s novel a real page-turner. Dead Pawn takes the reader deep into the New Mexico criminal and power broker sub-cultures, leaving the impression that the ‘good guys’ have no way out of a hopeless quagmire–until the very end. I can’t wait for the sequel.” – Joseph Badal, author of The Pythagorean Solution
crisp, succinct description, realistic dialogue,… wit and candor… authentic feel – Carry Seidman, Albuquerque Tribune
Peck must be an omnivore for knowledge. He showers his story with informed detail, for the intricacies of a construction job to the workings of a greasy spoon to the fine points of Indian jewelry… an interesting… gripping read. I recommend it highly. – Jane Dickinson, Rocky Mountain News