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Zero Saints

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Enforcer and drug dealer Fernando has seen better days. On his way home from work, some heavily-tattooed gangsters throw him in the back of a car and take him to an abandoned house, where they saw off his friend's head and feed the kid's fingers to...something. Their message is clear: this is their territory, now. But Fernando isn't put down that easily. Using the assistan ...more
ebook, 196 pages
Published October 15th 2015 by Broken River Books
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Janie C.
Oct 12, 2016 Janie C. rated it it was amazing
I just finished this whirlwind cocktail of a novel and I'm feelinglightheaded. The raw humanity, the surreal spell, thebody and thesoul that bind the elements of this story togetherleft me reeling. The prose is bothsavage and tonally alluring.The nucleusexplodes withboth revenge and spiritual evolution.I let my Kindle translate the Spanish sectionsfor me throughout65% of the book.For the final 35%,I let the motion and the physicality of the words guide me. I didn't miss a beat. Highly recommende ...more
Edward Lorn
Oct 12, 2016 Edward Lorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, let's get this bit out of the way. You need more than a passing knowledge of Spanish to understand every word of this book. If the extent of your Spanish is Dora the Explorer, prepare yourself for much Google Translate. My friend Janie C., who I buddy read this with, says you can use your Kindle to translate selections, but she also said it didn't work for words like pinches. In other words, it doesn't help with the cussing. I didn't have a translation option at all because I read the sup ...more
Richard Vialet
It's impressive how much great material author Gabino Iglesias is able to fit into such a tiny book. This, his Spanglish-language 2nd novel, is filled with everything from heavy doses of Santería and Yoruba religions, Mara Salvatrucha bangers that just may have a hint of demon in them, a hitman who is also an aspiring reggaeton artist, examinations of immigrant life, and a man who never blinks.
Her smile had all the power of the sun but didn't blind me. Instead, I wanted to look at it forever,
Benoit Lelièvre
This was an incredible read, yet I have a difficult time wrapping my head around everything that was great about ZERO SAINTS because there was so much stuff both on the emotional, technical and intellectual level that clicked with me. First thing first, the protagonist Fernando was pretty awesome. He is a tough guy and a man of principles, yet he is alone in a way only a man of his ilk can be in a world on the edge of reality, filled with outlaws and murderers. I've had a hard time prying myself ...more
Adam Howe
Mar 01, 2016 Adam Howe rated it it was amazing
In Gabino Iglesias’s barrio noir Zero Saints, ex-pat Mexican drug dealer Fernando finds himself targeted by a gang of rival bangers from hell – maybe literally from hell. This book is getting a lot of hype, and deservedly so. It’s a kick in the teeth of a crime novella, interwoven with religion and the supernatural like a Tex-Mex John Connelly. Moments of beauty are punctuated by scenes of quite shocking violence – for someone who considers himself pretty desensitized, that’s saying something. A ...more
Edward Rathke
Nov 06, 2015 Edward Rathke rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic read and definitely Gabino Iglesias at his best. It's the second book I've read by him this year and they're about as different as two books can possibly be.

Zero Saints is intense, grimy, almost holy, and full of violence and pain. The violence is institutional, systemic, but also present and active and very real in an immediate sense. There are brutal men here. Men who may be demons. Demons who may be men.

Iglesias tells a personal story about drugs, immigration, cultural h
The Grim Reader (
Gabino has already dipped his toes into Bizarro waters and got involved with some deep sea creature carnage with Hungry Darkness. However, this is where I feel he is most at home in this gripping, hard boiled noir thriller that ticks all of the boxes for this reader. It's a pretty quick read that pulls no punches, featuring a flawed central character in Fernando and crisp dialogue, this is a start and finish in the same day book. The pacing is perfect and the dark, seedy undercurrent that runs t ...more
Elias Siqueiros
May 16, 2016 Elias Siqueiros rated it it was amazing
Zero Saints is Gabino Iglesias’ third book of fiction. I enjoyed his previous offerings, his Bizarro debut Gutmouth that was released on Eraserhead Press, his horror creature feature Hungry Darkness: A Deep Sea Thriller which was released on Severed Publishing. Yet, this third book seems different than the previous two, not only is Iglesias moving into new genre territory in this push toward Crime, but the book also has a confidence and a maturity that comes through fairly quickly. The first cha ...more
David Keaton
Nov 12, 2015 David Keaton rated it it was amazing
A ferocious book, and I learned some new words, too! Gabino Iglesias' new novel is full of Spanish thought bubbles and slang and asides that are expertly rationed and don't confuse at all. Kind of like what Burgess did in A Clockwork Orange, maybe more like what Cypress Hill did on their Greatest Hits, but twice as murderous as either. Context more than gets you through the language Chimera, and the author's strategy pays off big time, highlighting the dangerous, otherworldly beauty of the borde ...more
Zero Saints is no nonsense noir that is impressive on many levels. The writing is technically superb, yet retains a lyricism without ever trying too hard. Fernando's story is gritty and uncompromising. The struggles, the emotions, the setting, the supernatural and religious elements, they are all conveyed so well. Gabino Iglesias is for real. This book hits hard and doesn't let up, earning it’s place among my all time favorite reads.
Shane Keene
Mar 02, 2016 Shane Keene rated it it was amazing
So. Gabino Iglesias. I had never read any of his work before. To be honest, I didn't really know that he was a fiction author. We were facebook friends and I had read a ton of book cubrirreviews by him. In fact, I greatly admire him as a book reviewer and follow his reviews avidly. But I had never encountered his fiction. Then I started seeing this book pop up over and over again. All over Facebook and Twitter people were raving about it, and it got so hot the feds had to step in to keep it from ...more
Jan 07, 2017 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark, sharp, and at times incredibly brutal. I fucking LOVED IT! Full review to come.
May 23, 2016 Marvin rated it it was amazing
Zero Saints is as gritty and uncompromising a novel you will find while still being glad you read it. Gabino Iglesias places his story in Austin, Texas. It is not the urban chic Austin of SXSW or Austin City Limits but the Austin of gangs, drug dealers and a displaced people. Fernando has crossed from Mexico into the Austin streets but have not escaped the terror of the gangs. While his life is still hard, being a drug-dealer in Austin is still better than the horrors that affected his family s ...more
M Griffin
Jul 15, 2016 M Griffin rated it it was amazing
Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias was published by Broken River Books late in 2015. A quick, propulsive tale packed with violence and threat, in which a gang-connected drug dealer on the dark side of Austin, Texas receives a warning from a group of rivals, who might also be demons. Fernando tries to find the right path through a dangerous milieu that stretches across the border into Mexico, venturing there and back again.

I don’t know who came up with the phrase “Barrio noir,” but it fits. Some read
Dec 08, 2015 Bracken rated it it was amazing
Wonderful characterization drives this propulsive novella. Gabino Iglesias writes with the respect enough for the subject matter and the reader not to pander or dumb it down. I can't wait to see the next Barrio Noir he comes up with.
Feb 12, 2016 Craig rated it it was amazing
In the otherworld that all stories spring from, crime fiction inhabits a unique space. Crime fiction, insofar as what it claims for itself, is an especially proletariat fiction. Crime fiction writer Danny Gardner is fond of saying that “crime affects us all” and that is true but it is more true for some than others. The lower your station in life, the likelier you are to come to intimately understand the truth of Gardner’s maxim. When you’re poor, when you’re a person of color, when you’re “Othe ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, crime, neo-noir
Broken River has been hit or miss for me mostly. Now granted I haven't read them all but some have been amazing and some falling very short. Zero Saints however is not a miss. In fact it's up there with The First One You Expect and The Least Of My Scars. My two favorites so far. It starts with a brutal warning to an enforcer named Fernando and his boss and follows Fernando on his path to vengeance as he prays to Santa Muerte, meets strange people for help (including a man who doesn't blink and a ...more
Dec 29, 2015 Mathew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure about this book - I mean, my understanding of Spanish culture, religion and language comes pretty much from watching Dora the Explorer with my kids - we just don't have much exposure to the Spanish speaking world over here in New Zealand. If I'm being honest the first few pages of this book left me feeling a little over whelmed - I was worried I was missing out on vital bits of the story because I didn't understand the Spanish sections of text. The story though kept me goi ...more
Pedro Proença
Feb 05, 2016 Pedro Proença rated it it was amazing
Fernando, a man working for a drug dealer in Austin, Texas, gets caught in a power struggle between his boss and a new group in town, headed by Indio, a heavily tattooed sadists who takes much pleasure in cutting people's heads off.

Gabino has found his niche. I've read and loved his first book, GUTMOUTH, but this is definitely a next level piece of art.

The devotion Fernando shows to Santa Muerte, the Mexian folk saint, is what frams this narrative, and shows a more human side of a man working de
Aug 22, 2016 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zero saints is an awesome piece of crime fiction that kept me riveted throughout. As it has been stated in other reviews there is a good amount of Spanish sentences throughout the book. Because I do not speak the language at first I was afraid I would be confused with what is going on but that was not the case and I grew to love it. I believe it enhanced the experience because it placed me in the location and culture that the story takes place as much as possible. The author has created wonderfu ...more
Christopher Irvin
Dec 13, 2015 Christopher Irvin rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that really functions and connects well on multiple levels - from the immediacy of the POV (partially told in 2nd) to the immersive use of Spanish, especially with emphasis toward the religious/spiritual elements of the story. It's difficult for me to describe without spoiling, but Iglesias' tale of life along the border - La Frontera - with Zero Saints is a trip you won't soon forget. Highly recommended.
Oct 11, 2016 Angel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You're going to find yourself saying, 'Jesus Christ', multiple times throughout your reading of Zero Saints - all for good reasons.

Breathless, transgressive, and bilingual. Iglesias manages to juggle chainsaws and finds the beauty in the occasional wound.

Click. Get to it already. Stop reading this.
Jun 15, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
What an original, violent, oddly beautiful, bat-shit-crazy mix of crime and horror. I loved it.
Jon R. Meyers
Dec 05, 2015 Jon R. Meyers rated it it was amazing
Zero Saints is the Noir novel we needed that has been missing for years.
May 13, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir
A TOP SHELF review, originally published in the May 13, 2016 edition of The Monitor.

Gabino Iglesias is a true wordsmith, making his mark in recent years as a reviewer, essayist and writer of dark, visceral fiction. The Austin-based Boricua slings English as well as Spanish, and his latest novel uses that linguistic prowess to devastating impact.

“Zero Saints” (Broken River Books, 2015) centers on Fernando, a rough-and-tumble gunsel from Mexico City. When things go south for him, he flees north, c
Nicholaus Patnaude
Nov 28, 2015 Nicholaus Patnaude rated it it was amazing
The first line that struck me in this poetic, Spanish-language-infused noir was:

"The blackness covering his features sprouted ghostly tendrils that seeped into the night around us and made everything darker. Impossibly darker."

It's light hints of surrealism like this that make this book stand out from other noirs.

Another random, great line:

"The shoes on his feet looked five sizes too big and they were vomiting their tongues like alley winos."

This book, despite the aforementioned surreal touche
David Nicholls
Dec 08, 2015 David Nicholls rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!
From start to finish it is packed with awesome ingredients (gang life, the struggle of being an immigrant, the weird supernatural elements etc.) that would be great on their own, and Inglesias manages to take them and bake them into a freaking savage cake (you know, the kind of cake that you say to your friends, "This is a damn fine cake, I'll save you a slice," but you know deep down that they're not gonna see a damn crumb of it, because you're in this for the long-haul. And w
May 11, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Complex characters? Check. Dark magic realism? Check. Scathing commentaries on border politics and contemporary society? Check. Fully bilingual brutality and grit like you’ve never ever seen before? Check.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the genesis of “barrio noir,” and you’re gonna want to get in on it.

Like now.

Zero Saints is the story of Fernando, a smalltime “enforcer and drug dealer” in Austin, Texas, who winds up eyeball-deep in shit after some real-deal Mara Salvatrucha gangsters decide tha
Grant Wamack
Nov 29, 2015 Grant Wamack rated it it was amazing
When I was younger, I would use certain words until their meaning lost all impact. One of my favorite words was INTENSE. School was intense, my love life was intense, every movie was intense. It was a wonder I made it through my everyday life without being consumed by the intensity of it all.

Reading Gabino Iglesias’ crime fiction novel Zero Saints brought this word to my forefront of my mind. I probably told myself this book was intense about every twenty pages or so and I meant it everytime.

Martin Stanley
Sep 21, 2016 Martin Stanley rated it really liked it
A fine piece of quality crime fiction with a slightly surreal and weird edge. For the most part, I liked the use of Spanish within the text (it reflects the main character's nationality and that of many of those around him). In most cases, the Spanish was weaved lightly through the English, making it easy to translate via my Kindle's translation function, and as such didn't hinder the narrative flow. However, when Fernando is undertaking his novena's, and in certain situations when he was chatti ...more
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