Title: City of Promises

Author: D. Grant Fitter

ISBN: 9781477544365

In his debut novel, City of Promises, Canadian author, D. Grant Fitter spins a tale of a young naive country boy, Arturo Fuentes, who runs off in the early 1940s from his Mexican oejido (an area of communal land used for agriculture) to seek out riches in Mexico City or known as the city of promises -a place which is described as the “cuna, the cradle, of this great era of opportunity.” Unfortunately for many, it often turns out to be a city of false promises.

As we tag along with Arturo we discover his astuteness when it pertains to seizing business opportunities among which include a custom design glass bottle supplier, a bus operation and night clubs, all of which lead to a series of financial successes. To guaranty a smooth running of these business ventures and to deal with his many challenges, Arturo is forced to include among his associates menacing characters including a dishonest colonel, who could make sweet deals or inflict great damage, and a wealthy playboy, both of whom are involved in narcotics trafficking, illegal liquor imports, bawdy houses, cabarets, protection rackets, political assassinations and even controlling the media. As Arturo quickly learns, it is not how much one knows but who one knows that is important. He also discovers that there is not a business a person can become involved in that is not in some way connected to the future President of Mexico whose hand is dipped in every pot. And it is these two scoundrels that have the power to deal with the future President.

In addition, we also follow Arturo's complicated love life involving three women, one of whom was shot and killed in front of him at the very beginning of the yarn, while the other two he courts simultaneously. One of Arturo's lovers, a dancer, whom he encounters on a busy train proves to be quite an asset in introducing him to some influential individuals, while the other, although she is a hooker, becomes a kind of alter ego reminding him to be true to her and to himself. Arturo finds himself having to deal with a one-man-two-woman situation wherein he is in love with both women, however, by popular moral judgment, neither of these two women he loves could mother his family or perhaps that should be a question he only can decide.

Where this novel falters is that the stakes faced by the protagonist were not raised high enough and, unfortunately, I was never on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next-both of which are vital if you wish to create a memorable tension filled story. Moreover, I felt that the author should have devoted more ink in developing the struggles faced by his protagonist which is more important than the satisfaction he experienced. As an example, the inner conflicts concerning Arturo's love life barely scratches the surface with its lack of depth and was not pushed beyond what I would expect. On the other hand, although Fitter has not quite mastered the fluidity a novel requires, he has efficiently dealt with time and place that makes the story come alive in the imaginations of the readers. Fitter realizes that his story must be something more than just landscape and rooms and thus he effectively captures the milieu and the shenanigans of a corrupt society. To quote Arturo, “from the Presidency on down to the humble servitude of those who sweep our quarters and tend the gardens, our entire society and everything we do is little more than a coxcomb of false fronts, constructed under the guise of making everything appear quite proper and orderly.”

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With D. Grant Fitter