"Miami Beat" by Jorge Goyanes is the first installment of the Jose Castillo series. The series centers around the wise-ass car repairman by day-private detective by night, Jose or JC. This is the first novel by Jorge Goyanes, who I had the of pleasure sitting down with at La Bamba's to pick his brain over sangria, margaritas and delightful Spanish food. Much like the main character, JC, Jorge is a Cuban American, who was born in Cuba then shipped off to the U.S. At age 5 lived in little Havana, a highly Cuban populated neighborhood of Miami where he grew up, lived in New York for 3 years only to make his way back to south Florida, this time to Broward county. He has finally settled in palm beach county where he owns and operates a Goodyear shop.
Miami Beat while short is a quick witted detective story that involves estranged family members, two murders, a drug lord, the model wife of the drug lord, family scandals, a wise ass part time detective, his street smart cop buddy, and JC's fiancée Kat who seems to level everything out.
The book itself is rather short so it is very quick moving. Before I even had a chance to ask Jorge about the length of his novel he quickly told me that he understood it was short, and explained why. Jorge, who is no stranger to cars, has never written a novel before. He does write a few columns that revolve around car repairs advice and political dealings which are published in local newspapers. Thus while cars are his passion, writing is not. He did not know that the average novel is three times the size of his. He wrote Miami Beat after his wife, also named Kat, urged him to write something that he could make money off of, since his articles were bringing in nothing but free advertising for his shop.
Jorge practices my favorite form of writing, sitting at a computer and letting the story take him over. He admits that he had no idea where JC was going and was along for the ride as much as the rest of us. I asked Jorge if any characters are based off people he knows, he told me that Kat is based off of his wife. He says that he has a theory about what happens when couples get together "when couples get together they either go up or they go down" he tells me about how his wife has been able to bring him up, he has seen success before in some business endeavors but once he met his wife, she helped him become the person he wanted to be. This clearly echoes the relationship between, JC and Kat. There are quite a few scenes in the book featuring JC, Kat and Nate (the street smart cop buddy) sitting out in the south beach scene having a few drinks,the boys tend to get rowdy talking about the latest scheme, and Kat is there with the level head to calm it all down, and have them look at everything from each perspective. Jorge also says that the character of Nate is based off more than a few people he has met in his life. However, the more I spoke to Jorge and listened to his stories it became clear to me that JC is based off of him. When I asked him about this he says that's true, from what he had heard about writing, "you should write what you know". With this being said I asked him if he has any private detective experience as that's a main part of JC's character. He tells me that while he does know cars he is not a private detective, that part came from riding along with a friend of his, who was a
Seeing as Jorge grew up in Miami, he is able to really capture the Miami feel, with the culture, night life and surroundings really being highlighted in Miami Beat.