Slum Song
by Dan Carroll
Vanity Press Books

"Battles had raged along the fifteen miles of opulent International Avenue, as well as in other pockets around the island. Much of the thick whiteness emanated from the area surrounding the Presidential Palace."

Countless novels play on readers' escapist desires with exotic settings. Seaside and island locales are especially popular for an armchair getaway, yet they are frequently presented in a way that appeals primarily to the tourist mindset. In contrast, Carroll's novels of the fictionalized Caribbean island of San Cristobal show the darker, poorer side of life in the tropics that rarely makes it into the travel brochures. In this book, a sequel to his debut novel Slum, the author delves even deeper into a world carefully hidden away from most vacationers' eyes on their trip to a tropical paradise.

While the novel can be read as a self-contained story, this follow-up tale continues the romance of Robbie and Julianna that developed in Carroll's first book but adds new challenges to both their lives and the lives of other characters previously introduced. For example, Robbie may have a vision for transforming the slum and the backing of the island's de facto head, Octavio Texidor, but complications in his personal life such as Julianna's unplanned pregnancy and business ambitions, his soon-to-be adopted daughter's school struggles, and a moral dilemma over whether or not to remove the feeding tube from Julianna's comatose husband serve to distract him. However, these difficulties soon begin to take a back seat to an even more dangerous problem: the rise of the Sandinas that threatens to plunge the entire island into revolution.

Carroll blends romance, intrigue, and danger into a novel that begins as literary fiction but quickly turns into a thriller. This sequel's good character development, pacing, and suspense should appeal to most new readers but will almost undoubtedly please fans of the author's first book.

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