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Bitter Drink by [Haghenbeck, F.G.]
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Bitter Drink Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 167 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Beatnik detective Sunny Pascal is an expert at two things: cocktails and finding trouble. And when the filming of John Huston’s The Night of the Iguana hits a few snags with its sexed-up, star-studded cast in a Puerto Vallarta paradise, producer Ray Stark brings Sunny in to chill out the set. But matters get tipsy when someone’s found deader than dead, shot down by a gun belonging to one of the cast members.

Now Sunny’s got to keep his Hollywood stars out of jail long enough for him to solve the case. But the trouble doesn’t stop with murder. The Mexican mafia and local newspapers wage a tension war against the hedonistic Americans, and if John Huston has anything to say about it, Sunny’s got to be the one to keep the show on the road. Only Sunny will be doing it his way: with a martini in one hand and a Colt in the other.

Prolific Mexican comic book writer and Turn of the Screw Award–winner F.G. Haghenbeck gives us the spins with Bitter Drink, a tense tale of crime, passion, and cocktails.

About the Author

F.G. Haghenbeck was born in Mexico City. He’s been an architect, museum designer, freelance editor, and TV producer. He’s also the comic book writer of Crimson and Alternation, as well as a Superman series for DC Comics. John Huston biographer William Reed encouraged Haghenbeck to transition into writing crime novels, and the result is Bitter Drink, which has already won the Turn of the Screw Crime Novel Award in Mexico. Haghenbeck currently works full time writing novels and editing historical and pop-culture books. He loves eating his wife’s gourmet food, drinking cocktails, reading the noir novels of Raymond Chandler and Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and watching cartoons with his daughter, Arantza.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1141 KB
  • Print Length: 167 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1612183905
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing; Tra edition (July 24 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007FG9KQ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,640 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Drôle, clair, facile à lire, vive les séries policières avec énigmes intéressantes, pas trop compliquées et dont le héros n'a pas peur de rire de lui-même.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d321d74) out of 5 stars 41 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d617774) out of 5 stars A Toast To The Chandler Spirit July 7 2012
By R. A. Barricklow(Scaramouche) - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
A unique gem of a novel. It's chaptered with drinks headings, starting with the Dry Martini; plus the author also gives the recipe & brief history of each drink. Like Chandler, there is a real behind-the-story basis for his novel. Also like Chandler, he can write/One look at her and you could almost taste twenty years of prison time/We were so different we must have descended from different apes/...just a waiter who smiled like a toothpaste commercial. Also Chandler-like in his setting descriptions/The main streets are cobblestone, the rest dirt. The urban layout is so simple a child could have designed it: three long streets run paraellel to the beach and the rest head straight to it. A few church steeples peer timidly out from between the red tile roofs and verdant treetops. Modern buildings of a respectable height stand out like mariachis in a jazz band. A decent airport is located a few miles out of town where visitors arrive in search of sun, sea, and cheap drinks. And of course: Hollywood, gangsters, the powerful rich, the femme fatales; and that enigmatic oxymoron, the can't be bought/corrupted gum shoe.
The early 70s has John Huston & Ray Stark getting ready to film Night of the Iguana in the Mexican paradise of Puerto Vallarta. Huston has given some cast members a golden gun with silver bullets. These are Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Sue Lyons, & Ava Gardner. Into this mix comes a beatnik bloodhound by the name of Sunny Pascal, half-Mexican, half-gringo, half-alcoholic, half-dead, & half-alive. Hell, he even speaks half espanol, mitad English. Hollywood doesn't need to do business with cops, especially not Mexican ones. Sunny comes to clean up a mess-like paying a bribe in Tijuana-Sunny's a beaner, a greaser; he can get his hands dirty. Detective is not on Sunny's business card. He prefers 'personal security'.
There is alot going on below the surface; many sharks have been already baited in Puerto Vallarta, and are just waiting for the likes of Sunny to fall into the scripted scenes, set to playout in real life.
Fortunately Sunny is one very tough hombre and is extremely crazyhorse savy.

Can't wait for another round of drinks.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d160dc8) out of 5 stars A classic series in the making Aug. 4 2012
By Steve Schwartz, Austin - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Mexican writer F. G. Haghenbeck is a name new to me. As far as I know, this is his first "legit" (as opposed to graphic) novel available in English. Kudos to Amazon for its enterprise. I want more.

Bitter Drink concerns murder and corruption surrounding the movie production of John Huston's Night of the Iguana in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, before the place exploded as a tourist destination. The plot matters less than the atmosphere and the characters. The detective, Sunny Pascal - half-Mexican, half-gringo - based in Los Angeles, has the same solitary quality as Chandler's Philip Marlowe or any of Robert B. Parker's detectives. The only thing missing is a snappy line of patter, a lack more than made up for by Haghenbeck's flair for images. John Huston has a voice "only a notch lower than a lawn mower." A reporter has a "face like a cockatoo." One look at Sue Lyon "and you could almost taste twenty years of prison."

The characters are all memorable, the atmosphere appropriately druggy, dangerous, and degenerate. As with most successful noir stories, the threat of violence makes as much of an impact as the actual violence. The narrative moves like gangbusters, and the suspense of not being sure of the loyalty of any character makes for a fascinating dance on the edge of a cliff.

A bit of lagniappe. The chapters are headed with cocktail recipes, as well as a history of the drink and a suggestion of the proper milieu in which to drink it. Fun.

Haghenbeck via Sunny Pascal has a unique narrative voice. Of course, the construction of such a voice in English falls to the translator, Tanya Huntington. Congratulations to her. Fabulous,zippy prose, great characters, compelling read.

There's at least one more Sunny Pascal, but it remains untranslated. I hope some publisher realizes what a potential for gold he has here.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d1608a0) out of 5 stars Not really a "book"; this is a novelette Sept. 9 2012
By Brian Baker - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
But since it's being sold as a "book", I'm going to review it as a "book".

As such I found the premise interesting - a "security consultant" on the set of the movie "The Night of the Iguana", with its diverse and legendary on-set personalities - but the execution falls pretty flat.

What little there is to the plot - and trust me, it's gossamer-thin - is served up hurriedly and pretty much glossed over throughout the piece. This is much more a piece about atmosphere than actual story.

The character portrayals are perfunctory, which is really a shame as the participants in that movie were legendary in their time: Liz and Dick, Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon, John Huston. But one really gets no feel at all for them, other than the type of light and perfunctory treatment you'd see of celebrities in something like "People" magazine.

Again, I want to stress that I'm applying the same reviewing standards I'd apply to any other "novel", and in my opinion this is really a novelette. If it were being published as part of some anthology, I'd give it a much higher rating; probably 4 stars. But as a stand-alone "novel"... no.

My Advanced Reader's Copy is 145 pages long in a dinky 5" X 8" format; according to the Product Page the "book" is 169 pages long. They must be using a HUGE font!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb4243210) out of 5 stars An inebriating pastiche of mayhem, mystery and murder Sept. 9 2012
By Evelyn Getchell - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Two popular novelists have changed the life of Mexican writer F.G. Haghenbeck: the American founder of the private detective fiction genre - Raymond Chandler - and the Mexican founder of the neopolicial genre in Latin America, as well as the biographer of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and detective novelist - Paco Ignacio Taibo II.

So from comic books to comedic crime noir comes Bitter Drink, Haghenbeck's snappy, campy homage to these two greats of detective fiction.

BITTER DRINK is an inebriating pastiche of mayhem, mystery and murder on the movie set of John Huston's 1964 production of The Night of the Iguana on location in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

BITTER DRINK is an expertly blended cocktail of Chandleresque plotting and rich Hollywood casting, with a double shot of sexually charged, alcohol fueled action, garnished with an exotic, Mexican paradise setting. Each intoxicating chapter is prefaced with a cocktail recipe, a snippet of mixology, and a tidbit of the drink's history... just to set the tipsy tone.

The dazzling star personalities of - the world's most infamous couple, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, hot off the set of Cleopatra; the aloof sex pot Ava Gardner; the "God-fearing Woman" Deborah Kerr; and the girl who would always be "Lolita" Sue Lyon, under the barking direction of millionaire filmmaker John Huston - all come to life, clash and combust with a rapid burning, energy on every swift-moving page of BITTER DRINK.

Trouble is of course inevitable on a movie set where all the actors hate each other, especially on location in Mexico and especially with the Mexican Mafia in town. Therefore the production needs "someone who can solve problems if anything should happen. You know, deal with the local officials." ... "It's easy money. They're filming at this great spot; you can have a few margaritas, get in some surfing, and shack up with a local girl."

It's the perfect job for a beatnik detective/crime-fighter "by the name of Sunny Pascal, half-Mexican, half-gringo, half-alcoholic, half surfer, half dead, half-alive," the wise-cracking, hard-drinking, Colt-toting narrator of BITTER DRINK.

Bitter Drink was first published by Roca in 2006 as TRAGO AMARGO. It has been translated from the original Spanish by Tanya Huntington and published in English by AmazonCrossing in 2012.

It is a short novel of 147 pages and can be read quickly. I'm even tempted to give it another reading right away, just for the fun of it! Even though I am a teetotaler myself, I got drunk on the storytelling. I found this wildly comic, punchy noir story thoroughly enjoyable. This entertaining novel has given the genre a new detective hero by the name of Sunny Pascal, a protagonist I certainly hope to see more of in future adventures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb42433d8) out of 5 stars Bitter Drink: Crime noir in the sun, with a twist. Sept. 7 2012
By John Williamson - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Francisco Haghenbeck's Bitter Drink is an interesting concoction, in more ways than one. It's a tale of homicide during a major film production, taking place in Mexico, and the author skillfully combines fictional characters with real people in this fast moving mystery with a twist... or three.

The author gives us a bit of "la ñapa," which in Spanish means a little something extra, as each chapter begins with a bar drink, and he also gives us the recipe and a brief background behind each drink. The first one is the Dry Martini, and his has the traditional olive. But that's one of the twists in this concoction, and it's no lemon.

Haghenbeck's mystery concoction follows beatnik detective Sunny Pascal, "half-Mexican, half-gringo," who is sent from Los Angeles by producer Ray Stark to keep an eye on things at the set of film director John Huston's The Night of the Iguana in Puerto Vallarta in 1963, before the place became a mecca for international tourism. Huston's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play starred Richard Burton as a defrocked Episcopal minister who worked as a tour guide in Mexico, and the author has a fascinating way of describing Burton's legendary capacity for drinking:

"I wondered in which leg he stored all that booze. He was carrying more fuel than the gas plant that powered the set's electricity. Burton spent so much time in that bar you'd have thought they planted him there a hundred years ago. And as long as they kept the drinks coming, he'd stick around for a hundred more. He was playing an alcoholic reverend; and given how much he had been drinking, I thought he deserved an Oscar for his work off the set as much as on."

The stars of this film are all here in this book, playing their parts: Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon, Deborah Kerr, and Richard Burton. And with Richard Burton was Elizabeth Taylor, his paramour at that time, before their respective divorces and marriage to each other.

But this the scene of this tropical paradise is suddenly interrupted when a body is found "so dead, that not even flies would settle on it. One of the actors had killed him." It became Sunny's job to keep everyone out of jail and figure out who did it.

Sunny has his work cut out for him, and bad things seemed to be cropping up on a regular basis while he's mixing and mingling with Hollywood's most illustrious personalities. He has to be the fixer, and sometimes looking the other way when it comes to the law and the morals of those around him. We find more twists here, and as one might expect, some of them have to do with drinking.

Author Haghenbeck tells this crime noir tale in fast, short chapters, giving the plenty of occasions for the author to start each chapter with his favorite mixed drink. But follow carefully and you'll see that these are relevant to what follows. Some of his descriptive phrases of individuals, places and events will cause you to smile or put the book aside for a moment, laughing at what you have just read. He does have a way with words, and Sunny's first person narrative is the perfect vehicle to keep us following all the twists here.

When one finds a good book and enjoys the author, it makes one want to see if they have any other offerings. This reader was not disappointed to find Haghenbeck's next book, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo, another that seems to have it's own historical perspective.

It's easy to compare Haghenbeck's writing style with some of the hard-boiled mysteries of the past with the flawed hero and showing the sleazy side of things, even among Hollywood's elite. But the author really kicks off his debut novel in English superbly with this one. And kudos to translator Tanya Huntington for bringing the author's words to us in such a readable way.

F.G. Haghenbeck's debut English language mystery is a hit for this reader, and one that was hard to put down. Bitter Drink has enough twists (not to mention olives, mint leaves, salt, lime juice, Tabasco, chili peppers, pickled onions and oranges slices) to make this one a page-turner. For this reader, Francisco Haghenbeck will be an author to follow, and this one is highly recommended if you like noir mysteries with a few twists.