Torres, Steven 1969-
Torres, Steven 1969-
New York Public Library, New York, NY, part-time staffer; Bronx Community College, Bronx, NY, English instructor; Yeshiva College, New York, NY, English instructor; Utica College, Utica, NY, assistant professor of English, 2002-04; Manchester Community College, Manchester, CT, instructor in English, 2004—.
The Concrete Maze (novel), Dorchester/Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2007.
"PRECINCT PUERTO RICO" SERIES
Precinct Puerto Rico, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Death in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Two, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Burning Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Three, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Four, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Steven Torres is the author of the "Precinct Puerto Rico" mystery series, set in a fictional small town called Angustias. As he told an interviewer for the New York Public Library Web site, "No one else was using Puerto Rico for mysteries. I think the island is underexposed. I'm trying to show readers what kind of people there are in PR as well as the natural beauty of the island."
Precinct Puerto Rico, the first volume in the series, introduces Luis Gonzalo, the long-time sheriff of the sleepy town who has grown bored with routine police work. But already things are changing, as drug dealers and the island's urban criminals begin to infiltrate the vulnerable town. After Gonzalo's own father-in-law is attacked by druggies, he doubles the size of his police force by adding three deputies, including a streetwise veteran from San Jose. This help comes just in time; shortly thereafter the bodies of eleven illegal Dominican immigrants are washed ashore and soon it is apparent that at least some were murdered. Before long, Gonzalo is dealing with missing bodies, threatening phone calls, and the suspicion that he is on the trail of corrupt cops who will stop at nothing to cover up their crimes. The result is a "top-notch police procedural whose engrossing details create an authentic feel," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
Death in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Two finds Sheriff Gonzalo escorting Elena, a young mother, and her newborn baby back home, but with the greatest reluctance. The problem is that Elena's husband, Marcos, is a notorious drunk and wife-beater, but Elena assures Gonzalo that she will be fine. A short time later she is found stabbed to death in her home, with Marcos holding the bloody knife. A seemingly open-and-shut case, however, turns much more complicated as bodies and suspects start to multiply and old secrets begin to emerge. In tracking these developments, Torres "offers a revealing and realistic examination of a society that … possesses its own customs, rhythms, and politics," concluded Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky. Library Journal contributor Rex E. Klett found Death in Precinct Puerto Rico "a welcome second helping of crazy characters."
New characters proliferate in Burning Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Three, as Gonzalo is required to deal with a troublesome new mayor, the mayor's condescending assistant, and an officious federal detective, as well as the rookie deputies replacing the seasoned pros lost in the second book. But these are the least of his problems as two ruthless thugs are killing, torturing, and burning their way through his town in search of a lost stash of cash. Arson even interrupts a ceremony honoring the beleaguered Sheriff Gonzalo's twenty-five years of service. While a Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that the "rich characters overshadow the shaggy plot," Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky commended this "third entry in an excellent series" for "the unshakable decency of its hero."
In the series' next installment, Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Four, Gonzalo is called to investigate the disappearance of a number of Angustias's children. He uncovers a confusing link to a dangerous political group fighting for Puerto Rican independence, but finds clues leading him to arrive at a disturbing theory—that the missing children are being sold to the United States as sex slaves. Wes Lukowsky described the novel in a Booklist review as "a fine entry in a notable series that deserves more attention." A Kirkus Reviews contributor maintained that Torres's "procedural engages interest with strong prose, convincing detail and local color."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of Death in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Two, p. 1383; May 1, 2004, Wes Lukowsky, review of Burning Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Three, p. 1525; September 1, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Four, p. 64.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 531; March 1, 2003, review of Death in Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 351; April 15, 2004, review of Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 367; June 15, 2006, review of Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 606.
Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 200; May 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Death in Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 159; June 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 108.
Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of Death in Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 40; May 17, 2004, review of Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 37.
Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), August 8, 2004, Diana Pinckley, review of Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, p. 6.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 10, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Precinct Puerto Rico; Harriet Klausner, review of Death in Precinct Puerto Rico.
New York Public Library Web site,http://www.nypl.org/ (July 10, 2007), interview with Torres.
Steven Torres Home Page,http://www.steventorres.com (July 10, 2007).