Right now, all things cartel are hot properties. Urban fiction is coming up because it gives voice to the cartel experience. And along came Lola. Set in Los Angeles, it details the rise of the Crenshaw Six, a small time gang of drug dealers with peripheral ties to the cartels.
In a twist to conventional cartel books, and reflecting the stories of real life queenpins, Lola is the first lady to the current gang leader. She was the first lady to the last leader of the Crenshaw Six, who was killed in a previous battle.
She and her partner live in a crappy little house that is the center of activity. Lola has spent a lot of time on the sidelines. She is observationally astute – she not only watches the gangs and how they do business, she watches all the players. She knows who can help, who can hurt and who controls what corners and she is ambitious enough to want to learn more.
In addition to the above, she is also attempting to divert her brother from becoming part of the game. She understands better than most that he is not equipped with enough guts or brains to get the job done. They both grew up in a neighborhood house with their mother, a heroin addict.
Lola helps set up a rip off and then spends the rest of the book dealing with the repercussions, opportunities and possibilities that arise from the events that follow. What sets Lola apart from other books in this genre is that a great deal of time is spent exploring Lola’s inner life and thoughts in her own words.
She is able to reflect on how she grew up, what she learned from all her relationships (familial and romantic) and how these lessons apply to herself, her brother, fellow gang members and even other men and women in the neighborhood.
One thing that creates a lot of tension in this book is that along the way, Lola rescues a neighborhood child who is being systematically abused. This means that Lola is in a bind because as a queenpin, the child becomes a liability due to her need to be protected and as a vulnerability for Lola that can be exploited.
This is a great book because it looks at a world that is written about largely from a male perspective in most books and turns the female mind and psyche to what goes into the decision to enter this kind of life, from a women’s perspective.
It is a new book from a first time author and there were a couple of times in the book where an explanation went a little long but I loved the fresh perspective to a genre that is trendy right now and with a growing list of stories that have similar story lines.
Give this one your attention for a look at the world in which a woman becomes a queenpin. Stay for the great story and it felt open ended so maybe we will see more of Lola as she climbs the ladder to drug lord.