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Legend has it that Pancho Villa s grave was robbed and his head stolen in 1926. A gringo is credited with the theft, but Gus Corral s great-grandfather was there too. As often happens to Chicanos, his role was given short shrift. But the Corral family has taken care of the skull for as long as Gus can remember. It s a jolt when Panchito is stolen from his sister s house. It s the only connection to the old-timers of the family, so Gus knows he will have to get to the bottom of the disappearance, even if it means tangling with thieves and thugs.

A variety of characters writers, attorneys, Vietnam vets, cops, soldiers populate these stories in which situations frequently aren t what they seem. An old man knows more about the disappearance of a neighbor than he lets on. A barber is involved in something that brings a ski-mask wearing, gun-toting hoodlum into his shop. And a cop accused of using excessive force hasn t told his family the whole truth.

Many stories in this gripping collection feature Mexican Americans struggling with their circumstances as an ethnic minority in the United States. Others cover historical events, from the Mexican Revolution to an encounter with Jack Kerouac. All spotlight Ramos artistry and dexterity as he shifts from noir to historical and even ficcion rapida, or flash fiction. Spanning his acclaimed writing career, this volume includes Ramos first story published in 1986, White Devils and Cockroaches, which features an attorney who served as the prototype for Luis Montez, the protagonist in five of his award-winning novels.

Manuel Ramos has a well-earned reputation for writing gritty stories about Latinos, stories that grab you by the throat. The richness of Ramos' work is evident in The Skull of Pancho Villa, a collection of previously published short stories. They range from an encounter with the mythical La Llorona to the rescue of a shoeshine boy by Jack Kerouac. The characters are a collection of seedy lawyers, drug dealers, hired hands, writers and ordinary people. The stories are clever and sometimes funny, but their real strength is the way they capture today's Latinos the talk and humor, the swagger and irony. The stories bring to life the contemporary culture of north Denver, the Southwest and Mexico. Ramos has a rich voice. He nails it.The Denver Post

About the Author

Manuel Ramos

Manuel Ramos is a retired attorney and the author of nine novels, six of which feature Denver lawyer Luis Móntez, and one collection of short stories. For his professional and community service he has received the Colorado Bar Association's Jacob V. Schaetzel Award, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association's Chris Miranda Award, the Spirit of Tlatelolco Award, and others. His fiction has garnered the Colorado Book Award, the Chicano/Latino Literary Award, the Top Hand Award from the Colorado Authors League, and three Honorable Mentions from the Latino International Book Awards. The Móntez series debuted with The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz (1993) , a finalist for the Edgar® award from the Mystery Writers of America and winner of a Colorado Book Award for Best Fiction. His published works include the mainstream novel King of the Chicanos (2010) , several short stories, poems, non-fiction articles and a handbook on Colorado landlord-tenant law, now in a seventh edition. He is a co-founder of and regular contributor to La Bloga (www.labloga.blogspot.com) , an award-winning Internet magazine devoted to Latino literature, culture, news, and opinion. His novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, won the 2014 Colorado Book Award for Best Mystery, and his short story collection, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award. His latest novel, My Bad: A Mile High Noir, was published in 2016.

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