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Zero Saints

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  566 ratings  ·  158 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
Kindle Edition, 196 pages
Published November 14th 2015 by Broken River Books (first published October 15th 2015)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  566 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Janie C.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this whirlwind cocktail of a novel and I'm feeling lightheaded.  The raw humanity, the surreal spell, the body and the soul that bind the elements of this story together left me reeling.  The prose is both savage and tonally alluring.  The nucleus explodes with both revenge and spiritual evolution.  I let my Kindle translate the Spanish sections for me throughout 65% 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 ...more
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 for
Edward Lorn
Oct 12, 2016 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
Benoit Lelièvre
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
The Shayne-Train
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book packs a LOT of punch into its pages.

Billed as a 'barrio noir,' I think that term hits pretty close. There are lots of passages en Español in here. Now me personally, I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school, so I was able to figure out maybe 50% of the non-English parts. But you know what? You don't really need to understand Spanish to suss out what's being said. Context, context, context, amigos. You can tell where someone's saying someone else is a douche, or someone's
Adam Howe
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tracy Robinson
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Iglesias really does something special within these pages. Listed as a barrio noir, and mentioned as such by the author himself, this is a crime novel like no other I’ve experienced. A taste of horror, a bit of dark magic, and sections of gorgeous prose commenting on society, life, and humanity, are just a few of the things that made this read special for me. The mixture of Spanish and English throughout might be daunting for some, but the authenticity of the cultures and peoples depicted in thi ...more
Edward Rathke
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Keaton
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Shane Keene
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary |
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zero Saints is one hell of a book.

I didn’t love it, but I liked it a whole hell of a lot. There’s plenty of action to be had, some seriously intimidating bad guys, and lots of new phrases to pick up if you have half the mind. (I had somehow never heard ‘pretty face, dirty arse’ before, but now I can’t forget it.)

The best main characters are the ones that aren’t afraid to admit they’re scared shitless. I think I’ve talked about that before when talking about my favorite action/science thriller/
Paul Ataua
Following ‘Fiebre Tropical’ this was my second ‘Frontera’ novel, or whatever they call writings covering people from South American roots living in the States that are written in a mix of English and Spanish. Again, despite never having officially studied Spanish, I had little difficulty getting what was going down. Unlike ‘Fiebre’, pretty much a romance story, this is a real gang coming of age piece set in Austin, Texas, which certainly has its gory moments. I appreciated the story it was telli ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an original, violent, oddly beautiful, bat-shit-crazy mix of crime and horror. I loved it.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark, sharp, and at times incredibly brutal. I fucking LOVED IT! Full review to come.
Peter Tieryas
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense, visceral, and the language was really creative and stunning. I'll write more as I collect my thoughts on the book.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Something about this book just pulled me in and loved every page. I heard so many great things about Gabino Iglesias on bookstagram and on Adam Cesare's youtube channel. As a Hispanic it was nice reading a horror novel by a Latinx author and from my home state. I love this book a lot, it had everything I wanted to read in a horror novel.
John Madera
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Equally hard-boiled and grisly, Gabino Iglesias’s Zero Saints cleverly upends the horror novel genre. It’s narrated by anti-hero Fernando, a wronged drug dealer, whose violent proclivities are tempered by religious devotion and a distinct code of honor, Fernando desperately fighting to live in a dark underworld, in both senses of the word, that is, criminal realm and the fabled abode of the dead. Iglesias’s muscular prose, equal parts Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, and Denis Johnson, is marked ...more
M Griffin
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pedro Proença
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
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bryce Allen
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for fans of several genres (noir, horror, bizarro, action) as Iglesias deftly crafts a compelling narrative splicing together myriad literary techniques and styles. Filled with unique characters and memorable scenes galore, ZERO SAINTS has everything you want in a novel - it's a new breed of page-turner that keeps the reader engrossed even after the story ends. Violent, urgent, gripping and ultimately very poignant, this book is a tremendous achievement.
Jonathan Raab
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barrio-Occult-Noir set in the underbelly of Austin, Texas. A bouncer/drug dealer runs afoul of some really bad hombres under the thrall of demonic forces. It's refreshingly focused on a small-scale conflict, with plenty of creepy and occult themes underpinning the not-at-all-derivative gangster action. Recommended.
Ryan Hurst
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Flew through this book, couldn't put it down. Very easy to read. The main character is a dude also....Very good. 👍
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Martin Stanley
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2016 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
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