The Black Minute, September 2009The Black Minute

From the Back Cover

After his highly acclaimed debut, Christopher Valen brings St. Paul Homicide Detective John Santana back in a suspenseful novel filled with tension and action that doesn’t let up until the final, explosive ending.

When the body of a young, Hmong woman is found on Harriet Island near the Mississippi River, it appears to be a simple case of murder and revenge. But what begins as a routine investigation soon becomes something far more sinister. Paired with a Hmong partner he’s not sure he can trust, and attracted to a beautiful woman with dark secrets, Santana is drawn into a maze of political intrigue and broken promises made during the Vietnam War. Trusting his instincts and determined to find justice, Santana uncovers a web of lies and a terrifying plot that could lead to a national disaster—and to his own death.

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Reader Views Annual Literary Awards: Best Mystery of 2009Reader Views Annual Literary Awards: The Black Minute is Reviewers Choice Best Mystery of 2009.

Lynda Goldman Award for Best Novel.

Read more about the winners in each category and more about the awards.

2009 Midwest Independent Publishers Association finalist for Best Mystery/Thriller. See the finalists and winners in each category.

Praise for The Black Minute

“The second John Santana St. Paul police procedural is a terrific thriller . . . Christopher Valen provides the audience with his second straight winning whodunit.” Read full review.
—Harriet Klausner

“. . . There is not one reason why this book isn't a winner! Everything about it screams success. The book is masterfully written with a tightly-woven plot, visually detailed settings and well developed characters . . .”
—Enid Grabiner for RebeccaReads (Read full review.)

“John Santana, the St. Paul, Minnesota, homicide detective who made his first appearance in White Tombs (2008), has a tough case on his hands. A young Asian woman is found murdered. Santana soon learns that she was a prostitute, and that neither her father (a former general in the Vietnam War) nor her brother approved of her lifestyle. But is this a case of a family exacting retribution for a daughter's shameful life, or is there something else going on here? Santana-an appealing series lead, strong and intelligent-has his hands full with an assortment of suspects and, as it turns out, more than one body to deal with. Readers who enjoyed White Tombs will settle easily into this one; on the other hand, it works fine as a stand-alone, and fans of well-plotted mysteries with a regional flair (the author uses Minnesota, his home, to good effect) should be encouraged to give this one a look.”
—David Pitt, Booklist

“As in White Tombs, Valen writes well about St. Paul and surrounding areas. He gives just enough sense of place to make you feel like you're there, but he never loses track of his story's fast pacing. And he does a super job of keeping the suspense going as the action reaches a crescendo."
—Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press

". . . The Black Minute grabbed me from the first page on, and pulled me into a complex world of evil, violence, deceit, bravery and search for justice . . ."
—Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Reader Views ( Read full review.)



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