The Black Minute
From the Back Cover
After his highly acclaimed debut, Christopher Valen brings St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana back in a suspenseful novel filled with tension and action that doesn’t let up until the final, explosive ending.
The body of a young, Hmong woman is found on Harriet Island near the Mississippi River. It appears to be a simple case of murder and revenge. But what begins as a routine investigation soon morphs into something far more sinister. Trusting his instincts and determined to find justice, Santana relentlessly follows clues through a maze of political intrigue and deadly secrets, all the while wondering who he can trust, and whether he can survive long enough to resolve the case, save the city from a catastrophe and keep the woman he loves safe.
Praise for The Black Minute
“The second John Santana St. Paul police procedural is a terrific thriller . . . Christopher Valen provides the audience with his second straight winning whodunit.” Read full review.
“. . . There is not one reason why this book isn't a winner! Everything about it screams success. The book is masterfully written with a tightly-woven plot, visually detailed settings and well developed characters . . .”
—Enid Grabiner for RebeccaReads (Read full review.)
“John Santana, the St. Paul, Minnesota, homicide detective who made his first appearance in White Tombs (2008), has a tough case on his hands. A young Asian woman is found murdered. Santana soon learns that she was a prostitute, and that neither her father (a former general in the Vietnam War) nor her brother approved of her lifestyle. But is this a case of a family exacting retribution for a daughter's shameful life, or is there something else going on here? Santana-an appealing series lead, strong and intelligent-has his hands full with an assortment of suspects and, as it turns out, more than one body to deal with. Readers who enjoyed White Tombs will settle easily into this one; on the other hand, it works fine as a stand-alone, and fans of well-plotted mysteries with a regional flair (the author uses Minnesota, his home, to good effect) should be encouraged to give this one a look.”
—David Pitt, Booklist
“As in White Tombs, Valen writes well about St. Paul and surrounding areas. He gives just enough sense of place to make you feel like you're there, but he never loses track of his story's fast pacing. And he does a super job of keeping the suspense going as the action reaches a crescendo."
—Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
". . . The Black Minute grabbed me from the first page on, and pulled me into a complex world of evil, violence, deceit, bravery and search for justice . . ."
—Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Reader Views ( Read full review.)
From the Back Cover
Detective John Santana knows Minnesota winters can be deadly. If the weather doesn’t kill you, bullets might.
When a prominent leader of St. Paul’s close-knit Hispanic community is murdered, Detective John Santana promises the widow he will bring down the killer. Despite the snow and bitter cold, the case heats up quickly—suspects are killed before they can be questioned; his alcoholic partner’s trigger finger draws the attention of Internal Affairs; a sexually explicit photo of a murder victim surfaces in an unlikely place; a snow plow becomes a deadly weapon; and police brass threaten to pull Santana off the case. Hunted by an assassin out for revenge and haunted by his violent Colombian past and the younger sister he left behind, Santana’s simple vow to a dead man’s wife becomes an oath that could cost him his life.
Praise for White Tombs
“White Tombs is a superb police procedural starring a fascinating lead detective. Santana is a wonderful new addition to the sub-genre. Readers will appreciate this strong whodunit with a stunning late twist that no one will see coming.”
—Harriet Klausner, The Mystery Gazette ( Read full review.)
“In this page turner, Valen presents a clear picture of a modern, urban Hispanic community - plus the horrible Minnesota weather.”
—The Poisoned Pen
“This book goes well beyond just being a detective story. The characters are fantastically well developed and the writing is solid and elegant. White Tombs screams out for a sequel – or better yet, sequels. I’ll definitely be on the lookout.”
— Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Reader Views
Read the full review.
"The book is a great read and Santana is destined to become one of my favorite detectives. Truly a 5-star read from this author."
—Patricia Reid, Armchair Interviews
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"John Santana puts Valen's police procedural in a class of its own. When the detective from Colombia takes his appetite for elusive justice to the streets, there is no predicting what will break loose."
— Abigail Davis, author of Hanging Katherine Garret
"Fast-paced, suspense-filled and packed with accurate detail.
A gripping story of revenge, murder and official corruption."
— Brian Lutterman, author of Bound to Die and Poised to Kill