Saturday, May 19, 2018


Genre: Literary Fiction / Romance / Spy / Thriller
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press 
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Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Number of Pages: 296 pages

Sins of the Younger Sons has received the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters! Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation’s revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke’s orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru’s estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War—and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.

"Reid’s story is a fascinating blend of page-turning thriller and vivid tableau of Basque culture and the movement that battled the Spanish establishment for many decades. A reader can’t ask for more—a book that’s engaging, entertaining, educative, and unique.”
—Thomas Zigal, author of Many Rivers to Cross and The White League

“What a fine book Jan Reid has written! At once history—both cultural and political—and sensual love story, it reaches beyond genre to make for a magical and profound reading experience. Don’t start reading it at night unless you want to stay up until dawn and then some.” —Beverly Lowry, author of Who Killed These Girls? and Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life

"Page by page, Sins of the Younger Sons invites the reader to dwell for a while within its unique world, to suffer and celebrate with its unforgettable characters. It’s a trip that, if taken, is well worth the effort.” —Ed Conroy, San Antonio Express-News

"Sins of the Younger Sons vividly takes us into a world few of us have seen and into a bitter conflict most of us have never considered nor understood.” —Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News


Sins of the Younger Sons
By Jan Reid

“How’s your day been?” said Ysolina as she came through the foyer. Luke wasn’t sure if she asked him or Barkilu, her collie.
“Good and bad.”
She set her briefcase down and kissed the dog. “Yes?”
“The good was reading the latest in your journal. I was moved.”
“Oh, you found it,” she said, rattled. “And liked it? Thank you. And the bad?”
He handed her the slip of paper. She looked at its warning and said, “Who gave you this? What does it mean?”
“I got it in a split tennis ball trying to make a bet at a pelota game, while you were gone. Where were you?”
“In Pamplona. My research—”
He shook his head. “We weren’t going to do that.”
“What, Luke? What?”
“We weren’t going to lie to each other. You weren’t at the archives in Pamplona. You couldn’t have gotten close to them. The crowds are huge this year for the running of the bulls. The roads are closed. I read it in the paper.”
She leaned against the wall and put the back of her head against it.
“All right. I went to see Peru. We were just talking.”
“Cooking up a little killing?”
She came off the wall and slapped him.
He nodded and held his hands out to the sides. “I don’t care what you were doing. I mean I do. Any man would. But you went to see him in a car registered to the person who’s on my forged passport and visa. I’m a fugitive, too, you know. And I put myself in this situation because of you.”
“And now you’re my guardian angel. Maybe you ought to flap your big white wings and just go away.”
“Ysolina, we have to get out of here. This proves what I haven’t been able to make you notice. It’s about us carrying on like we don’t have a care in the world. And this husband you went to see. Did you watch to see if anyone followed you? Do you get the picture?”
He had moved closer in saying this. She put the palm of her hand against his chest. “Can we talk about this over a drink?”
“Good idea.”
Soon they were yelling at each other; Barkilu cringed.
“You’ve been using me,” he lashed out.
“Is that right? I still don’t know just how you showed up on that trail ride that day. Who’s been using who?”
He sat on one of the bar stools stirring whiskey with his forefinger. “Where are Peru and his gang?”
“His gang,” she said bitterly.
“What are they going to do?”
“I don’t know. He won’t say. He wants to protect me.”
“Okay, let’s level with each other. I’ll go first. I was working non-official cover for an organization I call the Outfit. It means I’ve got no diplomatic immunity, whatever happens. I threw my associations with those Americans in the bay that morning in St. Jean-de-Luz. As far as my former friends are concerned I’ve gone over with ETA. Is that straightforward enough?  I’m in a lot of trouble. Not because of you. I said that badly. Because I fell in love with you.”
She drew a breath to steady her voice. “There were secret negotiations between the regime and ETA in Morocco. They seemed so promising. There had been a ceasefire for several months, and I hoped Peru might emerge as a kind of rebel turned peacemaker. What they’re seeing in Northern Ireland.”
“He didn’t seem all that peaceable to me.”
“Can I finish?”
“Go ahead. Sorry.”
“The talks fell apart right when you and I met. I still hoped that scenario for Peru might work out, but that doesn’t mean things were good between us. They haven’t been for a long time. I was using you, yes, and so was Peru. He knew I needed to be here for my research and more. I’m glad you think I’m doing something genuine. The people who tried to kill Peru in France were a Spanish hit squad. They were mercenaries led by an officer in the Guardia Civil.”
She went on, “Peru’s all right but he’s very angry. I don’t know what he’ll do. Maybe I was naïve. Grasping at straws. But I was hopeful—is that a sin? The Spaniards broke the ceasefire. They tried to kill Peru and did kill a boy Peru loved like a son. So all bets are off about a solution. He knows it’s over between us. He knows I’m with you. If you’ll calm down and just have me.”
After a moment he pulled her into his arms. She beat his chest lightly with the side of a fist. “You’re right,” she said, “it’s time to go. But where?” 

Jan Reid’s highly praised books include his novel Comanche Sundown, his biography of Texas governor Ann Richards, Let the People In, his memoir of Mexico, The Bullet Meant for Me, and The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. Making his home in Austin, Reid has been a leading contributor to Texas Monthly for over forty years.


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