The Detective Sánchez series of crime novels is notable for recurring elements, many of them humorous, that crop up in each book. Among them are –

The young northern European couple. They arrive early in the narrative, and inevitably get in Ernesto’s way. He usually has them thrown in jail.

Bill Clinton. This is Ernesto’s female German Shepherd. Others come and go – she’s always at his side (though at times only in spirit).

Arturo Salazar. This is Ernesto’s nemesis. Salazar is a former police officer. Corrupt, violent, and a little pathetic, he shadows Sánchez throughout his adventures.

The weapons. Ernesto has a carry permit for a sidearm, but it is rarely enough. He often gets his hands on a shotgun, an assault rifle, or a stun grenade.

The homeless kid. In Mexico, the children of poor families are vulnerable to abuse, and Ernesto has a soft spot for teenagers who are on their own. In each book there is, to one degree or another, an adolescent in need. But Ernesto, who often can barely help himself, is at times not the best mentor. He has a hard, impatient side to his character that can make him dangerous to these kids, too.

The fear of discovery. Ernesto is a trans man. To have that found out in machista Mexico could be very dangerous. Though the Ernesto character is understood to be male, the trans reality sometimes bubbles below the surface. It is important to acknowledge that some individuals in the trans community have expressed legitimate concerns that discovery narratives, if overdone, could be exploitative.

The substances. Sánchez likes to put a lot of shit in his body. This is contrary to a trans “truth”, which is that many trans people are very careful with their physical health. There are obvious reasons for this: hormones and surgery are serious matters that require knowledge and attention. But this is noir. Sánchez is an outsider and a loner. He’s got problems, and one of those is that he is often living at death’s door. Don’t worry, he’ll deal with it, but these things take time.

Banner photograph by Matt Mawson.