18 October 2017

*Giveaway Alert!* HIDDEN SEA by Miles Arceneaux

  Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 2017
Number of Pages: 384

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Charlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.
But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.

Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.

What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.

Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.

Praise for Hidden Sea:

“A riveting story from Texas that wanders down the cartel-invested Gulf Coast of Mexico and drifts across to lawless Cuba. The characters are as salty as the sea and the plot pulls you along as powerfully as the loop current.
W.F. Strong, Stories from Texas, Texas Standard Radio Network

“Hidden Sea is a total blast: smart, funny, and riveting, with unforgettably colorful characters and a world so alive that you’ll swear you’re really there.”
Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone
“In Hidden Sea, Miles Arceneaux tosses us in the drink of a timely contemporary adventure tale with the Sweetwater clan, complete with pirates, slave ships, family secrets, and the mother of all plot twists, in his patented Gulf Coast noir style.”
Michelle Newby Lancaster, Contributing Editor, Lone Star Literary Life, NBCC Literary Critic

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A friendly bartender behind the counter of one particular beachside bar asked Raul if he might like a cold beer “para la buena salud.” Raul took note of the man’s welcoming smile and sat down on a stool. He pushed a twenty-peso note across the counter and the barkeep served him the beer. After some small talk, Raul showed him his son’s picture. He took it and studied it carefully. When the man shook his head no, he hadn’t seen him, Raul thanked him for taking the time to examine the picture and then asked him why everyone else on Playa Bagdad barely glanced at it when he pulled it out.

“They think maybe the person in this picture has trouble with the narcos,” the bartender answered quietly, switching to English. 

Raul looked around to see who might be eavesdropping, but the place was vacant except for a young kid sweeping the wooden floor with a twig broom. “My son doesn’t have anything to do with drugs,” said Raul. 

“In Playa Bagdad . . . is not the drugs . . . is the fish.”           
“The fish?” 

           “Yes,” he thrust his chin seaward and said in a low voice, “los pescadores furtivos.” 

Illegal fishermen. Raul nodded. A Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden had told him about them. Almost every night, small motorized lanchas snuck into Texas waters to poach fish: sharks, mackerel, snapper, grouper, reds—all highly regulated species in Texas, and plentiful, too. Mexico had no such regulations, and as a result their waters had been mostly fished out. So, unsurprisingly, the local fishermen moved north to richer, albeit illegal, hunting grounds. Before long the cartels moved in and monopolized the racket.  

Raul swiveled around on his bar stool and surveyed the colorful wooden and fiberglass boats beached on the shore. They seemed harmless enough in the late afternoon sun, quaint even. The tourist guidebooks called them “artisanal” fishing boats, but come nightfall, packs of them would cross over to Texas waters and wreak havoc on the fish stock. They used gill nets five miles long, electro-shock devices, and deadly longlines hung with hundreds of baited hooks that killed all species of fish indiscriminately—sea turtles, dolphins, and birds, too.  

Their lines were difficult, but not impossible, to find in the open water. Game wardens looked for telltale plastic location buoys, but one officer said that poachers had recently started replacing the buoys with live pelicans which they lashed to their longlines. These illegal fishermen could haul in tons of fish worth tens of thousands of dollars in a single night. Whenever they sighted a U.S. patrol boat, it was a short run back to Mexican territorial waters where the yanquis couldn’t follow. Raul didn’t doubt the lanchas were handy to transport drugs, guns, and people, too. No wonder the narcos had decided to get involved.  

And no wonder nobody wanted to talk to him. The mestizo-looking kid in Raul’s photo might be in trouble with the cartel somehow. He might be a person on a hit list, an informer, a rival capo, a poor fisherman who had tried to cheat the narcos. Whoever the kid was, the locals wanted nothing to do with him, whether they’d seen him or not. 

Raul drained his beer and thanked the barkeep.  

The man shook his hand with a firm grip but didn’t release it immediately. “He is your son?” 


Mexicano o Americano?” 


“How long is he . . . not calling?” 

“Four days.”  

The man released Raul’s hand and nodded knowingly, unable to hide the pity in his eyes. He might as well have told him to forget about ever seeing Augie again.  

“Miles Arceneaux” is the pen name of three long-time Texas friends. James R. Dennis is a former attorney turned Dominican friar who lives in San Antonio. Brent Douglass is an international businessman from Austin. John T. Davis, also of Austin, is a journalist and author. Together, as “Miles,” they have been featured authors at the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, and the Lubbock Book Festival.
Grand Prize: Autographed copies of all five Gulf Coast series books by Miles Arceneaux + a copy of Geoff Winningham's Traveling the Shore of the Spanish Sea -- The Gulf Coast of Texas and Mexico Two Runners-Up: Each win an autographed copy of Hidden Sea

October 11-October 20, 2017 U.S. Only

Excerpt 1
Author Interview
Guest Post
Excerpt 2

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