Carolina Garcia-Aguilera

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"Luck of the Draw"

(Reviewed by Kam Aures JUL 8, 2003)

Luck of the Draw by Carolina Garcia-Aguilera

Esmeralda is a thirty-year-old Cuban interior designer in charge of her own company; she is also a wife and a mother of three, living an average life. One morning, at 6:30 AM a phone call changes her life as she knows it. Esmeralda's Mama and Papa are calling a family meeting at their Miami home. In attendance are Esmeralda, her brother Quartz and her sisters Ruby and Sapphire. The only family member who is missing is Esmeralda's younger sister Diamond who lives in Las Vegas. Diamond becomes the focus of discussion at the meeting.

Read excerptThe gathering begins with Esmeralda's Mama relaying to the family a dream that she had had two nights prior. In the dream she says that she was paid a visit by her great-great grandmother Maria Mercedes Montalvo. Maria told her that the family would be getting their casino, La Estrella, back. La Estrella was the Navarro family's casino in Havana, Cuba and had been taken from the family forty-five years earlier. Maria also told Esmeralda's Mama that the details of how they would regain ownership of the casino would be explained once the entire family was together, including Diamond.

Esmeralda's Papa then proceeds to take Esmeralda and her siblings into a "secret room" in their penthouse apartment. This room is filled with gold bars and jewels, which most likely "rivaled anything in the safes of Tiffany, Cartier, or Harry Winston." These jewels were smuggled out of the safes at La Estrella and brought by boat with the family to Miami with the help of "a friend" with ties to the Mafia.

With the past out in the open, the family mission is to now track down Diamond. As phone calls to Diamond's residence had gone unanswered; Esmeralda's Mama did something that Diamond had asked her not ever to do. She tried calling Diamond, a reporter for the Las Vegas Herald specializing in environmental stories, at her work. But after phoning them, Esmeralda's Mama was told that Diamond had left her job at the paper over a year earlier. No one knows what has happened to her.

Esmeralda takes on the task of flying to Las Vegas to try to locate her sister. She books a room at the Bellagio and has the fortunate luck of securing a man named Dennis as her limousine driver. She soon finds out that Dennis was a former homicide detective and hopes that he will be able to offer some insight into her investigation. They start looking for clues as to Diamond s whereabouts by visiting her apartment. After convincing the apartment manager to let them in they realize that the apartment has not been lived in for a few days. Esmeralda and Dennis obtain clues to help point them in the right direction by listening to the answering machine messages and going through the mail. Walking through the living room, Esmeralda spies "a little piece of white paper, maybe an eighth of an inch long, protruding from the black velvet frame backing." After removing the backing, a cascade of hundred dollar bills and a picture of Maria Mercedes Montalvo fall to the floor. Using these leads from the apartment visit, Esmeralda and Dennis start off on an investigation full of adventure that takes them throughout Las Vegas.

Carolina Garcia-Aguilera's Luck of the Draw is a well-written humorous, yet suspenseful mystery novel. Cuban born Garcia-Aguilera was a private investigator for over fifteen years and her knowledge and life experience is very evident in her writing. She paints a detailed portrait of the workings and intimacies of a Cuban family. Each character and their traits and flaws are so vividly described that long after finishing the novel the reader will remember each and every one of them.

Garcia-Aguilera's humorous mystery writing style is very similar to that of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum mystery series. Being a fan of Evanovich's work I truly enjoyed the experience of reading Garcia-Aguilera's Luck of the Draw and highly recommend other fans to give this author a try.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 7 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Luck of the Draw at

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Carolina Garcia-AguileraCarolina Garcia-Aguilera was born in Havana, Cuba in 1949. A love of mysteries since childhood led Carolina to become a private investigator.  She practiced ten years in Miami and now puts her experiences and knowledge to use in her novels. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014