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.”
“Nothing prepares one for the shock of crossing the Rio Grande into a busy Mexican border town. Nowhere in the world is the transition so palpable, abrupt, or extreme. On one side of the river you’re idling in your lane, waiting for the light to change, daydreaming about nothing in particular, and then, a quarter mile later, you’re careening down a potholed avenue jockeying for space with smoke-belching trucks, cars, taxis, and buses. Lanes don’t matter, traffic lights are discretionary, and aggressive, balls-out driving is the norm.”
This was one of the most fast paced books I’ve read in a long while. From the first chapter the story captivated me to finding out what happened to Augie. It led me on journey where Augie’s dad and uncle take it upon themselves to find him no matter what it cost them – even if its friendships or their own lives. The Hidden Sea takes readers on a journey of finding Augie from going to friends who are rich and famous, to a former country star.
The book’s main premise deals with the fictional story of the fishing slavery issue on ships. While the authors disclose at the beginning that the use of sea-slaves on fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico does not exist, it does in the South China Sea. Even bringing this to light gives me the realization to ask more often where potential seafood came from before I order it.
After traveling to Mexico a few years ago the above quote I pulled out of the Hidden Sea gives a near perfect description of what’s it like driving in that country. Taxi’s running red lights, honking for passage, people at intersections selling goods – the list could go on. The one good thing I remember is that during one trip our taxi driver stayed with us the entire time and even escorted me to the bathroom more than once. The Miles Acreneaux writers’ descriptions of Mexico are very real giving readers a sense of true place for the regions they describe.
A lot of Spanish is interspersed throughout the book, which lends to the authenticity of the story being told. Thankfully, the authors realize that not everyone can understand that language and creatively tell the readers what was said. On another note – if the plight of refugees wanting to enter the US as the authors describes in the encounter with the Mexico priest– if its 5 percent true then its horrific what people will endure for a better life for them or their children.
The authors bring the story together in unexpected surprise endings by showing that to true to life the world is small indeed.
“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