The spotlight is on the #HeistClub authors and stories, and Philippine crime fiction in general. Although I was only supposed to write one (1) blog entry for this blog tour, because #HeistClub is so close to my heart, this is going to be the first of a series. I will attempt to write about all the stand-alone books, and I wanted to have been able to do that by today, but life and work got in the way, so I am not yet done reading every book.
So let me focus first on two stories: Georgette Gonzales’ Classified (A Prologue to Les Dames des Fleurs) and Justine Camacho-Tajonera’s Bayawak’s Trail.
Why am I grouping them together? Because there is a similarity in their core theme, which involves murder, which may or may not involve a government/military cover-up and a certain group of people in jeopardy.
Danilo Halili was not an investigative journalist. He was simply a photographer who accompanied the news publication’s events reporter to cover the province-wide festivities. But his curiosity was piqued when he overheard something he was not supposed to hear… and we all know what they say about curiosity killing the cat.
Ramon Tanchangco had no doubt in his mind and in his gut that the victim of the gruesome murder in Quezon was his brother Danilo who had been unable to get back to Manila from his assignment. Angered and aggrieved, all he wanted was to find out who the killers were and why Danilo died the way he did.
He had a vague inkling that there was more to the crime than met the eye and he was ready to expose what that conspiracy could be. If only the French nun would refrain from detaining him at the Couvent du Sacré-Coeur with her hospitality.
Classified is the prologue to a 4-book series titled Les Dames des Fleurs chronicling the story of four military-trained women and their black ops team of dedicated individuals who fight for justice for the common Filipino.
Classified’s Danilo Halili was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he heard something he shouldn’t have. The result was his untimely death and his body having to be identified by his half-brother, Ramon Tanchangco in Quezon Province. The story deals with Ramon trying to uncover the reasons for his brother’s murder and in the process discovering the bigger horror that was about to take place. Without giving much away, this book just emphasized to me the sorry state of our local government and military groups. While they are all sworn to uphold the rights of the common man, there are still a lot of innocent people who get trampled under the ones who succumb to greed.
The pacing is tight and Georgette obviously has the knowledge about the military to pull this story off. I was engaged with the story from start to finish and was left wanting more. The introduction of the Les Dames des Fluers was a very welcome surprise for me, and I am already, in my head, anticipating the next stories that will come out of this series.
Marian Malabanan is an anthropology graduate student who just wants to study Manuvu folklore when she becomes embroiled in a murder, or what she considers an assassination, and with the Manuvus’ struggle with a paramilitary group in the hinterlands of Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Far away from friends and family, she can only rely on two people: Nanette Mamaril, her host and a local congresswoman; and the mysterious Gregoire Durant, a photographer and fellow anthropologist, who helps her navigate the dangerous minefield of Lumad ancestral lands and who advises her to keep quiet. Far away from friends and family, she can only rely on a few people: her host, a local congresswoman Nanette Mamaril;, and the mysterious Gregoire Durant, a photographer and fellow anthropologist, who helps her navigate the dangerous minefield of Lumad ancestral lands and who advises her to keep quiet. Can Marian figure out who was really behind the murder and would she live to tell her story? Or will her headstrong nature get her buried alongside the murder victims?
Bayawak’s Trail’s Marian Malabanan found herself right smack in the middle of a murder of a tribesman when she went to study the Manobo tribe in Surigao del Sur. The suspected culprit is a paramilitary group operating under government protection.
Justine weaved the story beautifully with glimpses of actual Manobo traditions and rituals, which made the reading both informative and exciting. The addition of a tall green-eyed French photographer and anthropologist named Gregoire Durant made for a most interesting dynamic.
Both stories were impeccably written, both dealing with the downtrodden local indigenous tribes in the Philippines as the victims, and both have weaved government, military and big company greed as the suspects. Don’t get me wrong, these two stories are totally different from each other in the sense that when you read both, you won’t get a sense that you’re re-reading the other. Each one has a distinct story to tell, their story-telling styles are different, and both have diverse interesting characters that move the stories along.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Georgette S. Gonzales is a full time author, residing in a small house somewhere in the Visayas. She has been writing for 12 years now under the pseudonym Edith Joaquin for My Special Valentine (Bookware Publishing, Corp.). This is her first English story to be published online.
Contact her through:
Justine Camacho-Tajonera was born and grew up in Cebu City, Philippines. Despite starting a corporate career in telecommunications, she pursued her masters in Literary and Cultural Studies to keep her close to her first love of writing.
She has had her poetry published in several anthologies and local publications and she has published three books: Artemis Lets Go (novella), A Portrait of Jade (novella) and Gift: Poems, her first collection of poetry. She maintains a blog, Claiming Alexandria.
She works full time at a corporate job in the Philippines, is married, and has two children whom she homeschools with her husband.