Saturday, August 20, 2016


A New Zealand-born, Los Angeles-based writer has this month released her first crime novel, SKIN OF TATTOOS, which centres on a Salvadoran gangbanger looking to make a fresh start after being paroled from prison. 

A journalist, poet, and short story writer, Christina Hoag is a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and the Associated Press. She has quite the pedigree as a former Latin American correspondent. Hoag's website bio states "she reported from 14 countries on issues such as the rise of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Colombian guerrillas, Guatemalan human rights, Salvadoran gangs, Nicaraguan landmine victims, and Mexican protests, for Time, Business Week, Financial Times, Houston Chronicle, the New York Times, and other publications".

She has published non-fiction and young adult books, but SKIN OF TATTOOS is Hoag's first crack at a literary crime thriller. 

Here's the blurb: 

Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice

The often-tough Kirkus Reviews have said "Hoag is a talented writer, summoning Mags’ world on the page with remarkable empathy and detail" and that "the overall experience is surprisingly nuanced and wholly enjoyable." SKIN OF TATTOOS is "A well-crafted, engaging novel."

Another Kiwi Noir talent to watch, and perhaps a contender for next year's Ngaios. 

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