Miami'90: 2Paths2 Murder A Novel

Daniel F. Solomon

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION ADVENTURE CRIME DETECTIVE DRAMA EPIC SUSPENSE/THRILLER HISTORICAL FICTION SATIRE

    Core Theme

    COMING OF AGE, CATCHING THE KILLER

    TIME PERIOD

    1980s & '90s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, DEXTER (SERIES), LAW AND ORDER (SERIES)

    CHARACTER LIST

    • RAQUEL SANTOS: 17F, VEGAN, ANIMAL ACTIVIST, CONFIDENT AND CAPABLE

    • SUZY: 17F, RAQUEL'S FRIEND, ANIMAL LOVER, INTELLIGENT AND FREE-SPIRITED

    • "SANTOS:" EARLY 50'SM, RAQUEL'S FATHER, HARDWORKING, KIND, OFFICE SCAPEGOAT AT HIS LAW FIRM

    • MARSHA: EARLY 50SF, RAQUEL'S MOTHER, PROSECUTOR, PERCEPTIVE, GOOD INVESTIGATOR, CONFIDENT

    • DR. PRESTON: 50S M, WELL-KNOWN GENETICIST, AP TEACHER FOR RAQUEL AND SUZY, MURDER VICTIM

    Logline

    Murder and intrigue.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning

    Setting

    Miami, Havana

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Outskirts Press

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    The story starts at dawn on December 5, 1990. Raquel has two new foster greyhounds. Her father and her grandmother discuss the fact that it her birthday and the anniversary of a holiday party when a man was murdered -- the backst. Three parties will occur that day....leading to a riot and to murder.

    Ending Description

    The story culminates in a series of trials. Raquel and her friend Suzy solve the murders but justice, as usual in Miami, is frustrated. The principal suspect in the backstory has a chance to save Cuba, but decides not to.

    Group Specific

    Included are conflicts of culture, religion, philosophy, and interpretation of science

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    9781977222374

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Raquel Santos

    Age: 17

    Gender: Male

    Role: Logical

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Desperate,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Funny,Skillful,Visionary,Blunt,Manipulative,Leader,Underdog,Heroic,Heartthrob

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Dr. Preston

    Age: 60

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Aggressive,Charming,Masculine,Narcisstic,Criminal,Decisive,Blunt,Power Hungry,Engaging,Outspoken,Skillful,Greedy,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Educated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Detective Steiner

    Age: 50

    Gender: Male

    Role: skeptic

    Key Traits: Masculine,Aggressive,Clumsy,Confident,Decisive,Blunt,Empathetic,Outspoken,Sarcastic,Honorable

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Marcia Santos-Johnstone

    Age: 45

    Gender: Other

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Modest,Clumsy,Confident,Patriotic,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Heroic,Honorable,Strong Moral Code

    Development Pitch

    Miami 1990. Sun and fun. Surf and turf. In Miami ’90 the turf is greyhound racing. The surf runs down the Intracoastal Waterway and out to sea... south to Cuba. The backstory is a 1986 unsolved murder that took place at a Miami style holiday party, witnessed by judicial, police and other civic leaders. The backstory connects two mysterious cities, Miami and Havana. On December 5 1990, holiday parties celebrate Christmas and other religious and seasonal events Miami style, but at an office party, a body is discovered, while the city burns after a jury verdict in a race related murder cases is announced. Meet Raquel and her friend Suzy and their biology class, as they take on the US, Florida’s and even Cuba’s criminal justice systems. Notorious unsolved murders may be related, in a city with a huge backlog inventory of apparent random killings. Besides murder meet: • Foreign intrigue, spies and espionage. • Cultural assimilation and hostility. • Generational and inter-generational conflict. • Dognapping and animal rights. • Fire bombings. • Riots. • Abstract and symbolic cultural art. • Public corruption fraud and Medicare fraud • Jury trials and administrative hearings involving DNA and other scientific subjects. • Foreign and domestic intelligence. • Smuggling, illegal guns and drugs and illegal immigration. • Remittances to Cuba. • Grifters. • Terrorist gangs. • Unscrupulous police and politicians. • And much more!!!!!

    Genre

    ACTION, SUSPENSE, DRAMA, POLITICS

    Brief

    A girl's quest for animal rights leads her to steal racing dogs and set them free. Her AP bio teacher, a famous geneticist, is killed at a law firm's Christmas party. The firm's lawyers, including the girl's father, are all dragged into the murder case. In the end, it was the ex-wife, another geneticist, who orchestrated the whole killing.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Mature Audience Themes: None

    Draw of Story

    The author's writing carries the plot and gets you excited for the story. Characters are pretty fleshed out and all of them speak with realistic dialogue that informs and engages the reader. The Cuban-American family in the introduction is the product of hard work and the reader quickly comes to appreciate them.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The book has a swathe of characters that populate the background of the story without providing much to the overall narrative. Often it seems that there are so many characters that it is difficult to see the connections between them or keep tabs on their relevance to the main plot. Characters like Abuela and some of the ancillary judges could simply be used as fillers, but instead the author works tirelessly to connect all of them in this impossible matrix that makes the story difficult to keep track of over 350+ pages. Frankly the B story with Marsha in Cuba seems to carry little weight when so much attention is focused on the murder case. Even when connections are made to explain her actions, it feels far more important to hone in on the main murder plot, and cut many of the loosely connected subplots to avoid confusion.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    A girl is on a mission to save local animals when she meets her geneticist biology teacher who keeps a lab full of animals. On her quest to set them free, she finds herself in the middle of a murder case as her teacher is killed at a party involving her father's law firm.

    Fanbase Potential

    This could attract the Latinx-American demographic of young adults and adults. There is good mystery and intrigue, though there is little sex appeal to really spice any of the plots up. The main push is this pursuit for justice, which is a common enough goal that it could attract a broad demographic of viewers.

    Awards Potential

    This could potentially be in the running for a Drama film, though it would frankly need to be elevated a bit. The writing itself is plenty capable, it is really the muddled plot that is barring this film from potential awards consideration.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, DEXTER (SERIES), LAW AND ORDER (SERIES)

    What’s New About the Story

    The story features a Cuban-American family of lawyers and activists who become entangled in international politics and a murder case. The outset is unique and captivating, but the story doesn't quite pay off yet due to its laborious plot. If anything, paring down what is currently written is the best way to find the gold in this story as it's currently written.

    Lead Characters

    The main character Raquel is confident, strong-willed and dedicated to animal activism. She is intelligent and capable, but she does not always push herself in school, despite her good grades.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is a compelling story on the outset, but it fails to live up to its own expectations. The story's premise suggests that there will be a deep dive into the world of Raquel's activism, her love of animals, and how she lives in the world of her Cuban-America family of lawyers. Instead the story hops between characters, establishing shallow roots without a lot of personal time to make this reader fall in love with any one character. There is a lot going on in the story, so much so that, it makes it difficult to really put stock in the success of any individual.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Network

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    This feels like a story right on the cusp of success. There is work that needs to be put in to perfect this narrative, but is the work of trimming, not adding. Inside these 350+ pages is a very strong story that has been bogged down with the granular lives of less important characters. 4 characters should have importance in the story: Raquel, her father Santos, her mother Marsha, and the victim Dr. Preston. Everyone else can take two steps back in terms of narrative development until these figures are given time to mature in the reader's eye. For film this is the full script, but far too long. All the C plots with the judges can be cut down to the barest of bones, the drama can be spiced up in B story in Havana, and the A story with Raquel needs to pack a much bigger punch. The breaking and entering scenes that Raquel and Suzy take part in are all off-screen which is a red flag for the script. Those are focal points in the story that are supplemented by the punctuating murder, all three of which should be the highlights of the first and second acts, with the trial conclusion rounding out the third act.

    Brief

    Raquel is an obsessive high school advanced placement biology student. When her genetics professor is killed, Raquel and her friend Suzy are suspects and go on the lam to avoid capture. Meanwhile her mother is implicated as a spy in Cuba. The entire family become suspects in murder, dognapping, smuggling, sabotage, medical fraud, and many related crimes. Their innocence can't be proven unless Raquel and her friend Suzy find the real killer.

    What We Liked

    - The writing is excellent and there is a big focus on making the characters engaging. Even the ancillary characters have hopes and desires that motivate their actions, good and bad, and develop the overall narrative. There is strong focus on upward mobility, and the success story of the Cuban-American Santos family and their forays into career legal work are a testament to the success of the American Dream narrative.
    - The murder mystery is a slow burn that allows characters to develop and us to appreciate the dynamic between Raquel and Suzy, Santos and his firm, and Marsha and Telena.
    - Key points: Animal Activism, Solving a Murder, Good Guys are Exonerated, Killer is Caught.

    Synopsis

    Raquel and her friends perform civil disobedience to stop dog racing. Her grandmother, Abuela is an immigrant who can’t assimilate. Her father, Santos, an assimilated immigrant lawyer, is involved in medical cases. Her mother, Marsha, a prosecutor, is in Cuba, working on invitation from the Cuban Gov't to track down leads on some large drug cases. Dr. Preston, Raquel’s professor, is an expert witness in some of Santos’ cases, and is the principal investigator in a genetics study that includes Abuela.

    The stories diverge. Abuela’s track introduces the audience to Santeria and to cultural dissonance. Marsha’s track to foreign intrigue and to cross border crime and terror. Santos introduces cultural and social tensions endemic to Miami in 1990. The Preston murder occurs at a holiday party where iconic Miami characters, all of whom are witnesses or suspects are introduced. All have a relationship to some aspect of a criminal investigation that ensues.

    Meanwhile Marsha meets Telena to help navigate Havana. Telena is a former Castro ally, and who, it turns out is related to Preston. Part of the Havana travelogue introduces the audience to connections to political and medical issues that tie the crimes from some of Santos’ cases and even some of his clients to Cuba.

    Preston’s murder may/may not be a replication of an earlier murder, as many of the same witnesses and suspects are involved. The Preston character introduces foreign and domestic terrorists, some related to Santos’ cases.

    Raquel and her friend Suzy use riots as cover to break into Dr. Preston's lab. They learned about the lab from an AP bio class they are taking that Dr. Preston and his second ex-wife, Oona teach. They flee to avoid capture, but develop a cult following, mostly other young biology students and animal activists Marsha sees the news of her daughter in a Cuban police station, when she is arrested for trying to negotiate a treaty with the Cuban Interior ministry. Santos hears about his daughter's escapades from some local police who are holding off rioters near the courthouse.

    Investigators, especially Steiner, Miami-Dade police, rule out the potential subjects as the character of Preston and a medical - legal crime operation is disclosed. Steiner becomes involved with Preston’s second ex-wife, Oona, close to Raquel. Oona is also a pathologist.

    Raquel and Suzy, and throngs of followers follow when they, Santos, and their lawyer meet with prosecutors and investigators. Raquel takes over, using genetic markers to identify the killer. In the end, Oona orchestrated the killing. The Santos family is disrupted, but Raquel and Suzy are celebrated. However, as in many cases in Miami, for Oona justice is ethereal.

    About The Author

    Daniel F. Solomon is the author of "Breaking Up with Cuba,” a history, and “Pitching Cuba,” a novel.