Created by Kenneth Gavrell
One of the few (the only?) P.I.s hailing from Puerto Rico, CARLOS BANNON is a detective privado who makes his home in San Juan. He smokes Camels, is partial to Palo Viego white rum, and he’s been around. He was born Carlos Bannon Santiago, the sole offspring of a Puerto Rican mother and a gringo father, dividing his childhood between Salinas and New York. After a stint in Vietnam doing his duty for Uncle Sam, and a failed marriage, he headed back to San Juan, where he runs a small detective agency.
He has a part-time secretary, Maria, who tries her best to keep Carlos honest, and a sometime assistant, Raul, a young guy who handles some of the scut work. And, occasionally, he calls in his girlfriend, Raquel Nieves, for backup. She’s a private detective herself, for the considerably larger Athena Detective Agency.
It’s a pretty volatile relationship, but it adds a nice little extra touch of humanity to Carlos’ character. And, God knows, he needs it. He’s awful darn cynical at times, even bleakly fatalistic at times, and he tends to be rather cold and emotionless. Mr. Deadpan. In one of the stories, a client tags him as “an independent son of a bitch,” and that’s being charitable.
Besides Raquel, Carlos depends on his trusty Browning BDA .380 or .357 Magnum, and the occasional juicy tidbit from Roberto Burgos, his pal in Homicide. Mostly, though, Carlos works alone. His cases take him all over Puerto Rico, from the meanest barrios to the tourist traps, and even to the El Yunque National Forest preserve.
Great locations, and a cold-as-ice detective who’s in danger of becoming human are plusses. The plots, however, are pretty run-of-the-mill. Still, these short stories are pretty good, and I always looked forward to them. They ran in AHMM for about almost twenty years, so somebody besides me must have enjoyed them, and I always thought it would be interesting to see what Carlos and Raquel could do in a longer adventure.
Never happened, though…
WAIT A MINUTE, EH?
- I enjoyed these stories, but Gavrell needs a geography lesson. On their way back from a fishing trip in the James Bay “frontier,” Carlos and his buddy make the big decision to “return via Canada.” As opposed to what? A short cut through New Zealand?
- “Death in the Barrio” (June 18, 1980, AHMM)
- “White Hibiscus” (September 8, 1980, AHMM)
- “A Killing at El Castillo” (February 3, 1982, AHMM)
- “My Little Girl” (May 1982, AHMM)
- “Mirage” (June 1985, AHMM)
- “Tigers Don’t Eat Strawberries” (May 1986, AHMM)
- “Island of the Snake” (July 1987, AHMM)
- “Plants Like Baroque Music” (July 1988, AHMM)
- “Dead End of the Mountain” (February 1991, AHMM)
- “Hurricane Force” (August 1991, AHMM)
- “Phone Call from the Dead” (May 1993, AHMM)
- “There are No Stars Over San Juan” (February 1994, AHMM; also 1999, Murder Intercontinental)
- “Christmas Ice” (January 1995, AHMM)
- “Bullet From the Dark” (July 1996, AHMM)
- “Welcome to the Rattlesnake Farm” (July/August 1998, AHMM)