The Alvarez Journal by Rex Burns

The Alvarez Journal by Rex Burns

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Winner of the 1976 Edgar Award for Best First Novel

A letter tips off a Denver narcotics detective to a colossal smuggling ring

Book 1 in the Gabe Wager series

Once, Denver’s small-time pushers sold nothing harder than dime bags of bad California grass. But in the last year, heroin has appeared on the streets of the Mile High City, and the police department has responded by forming a narcotics division. Detective Gabe Wager and his rookie partner spend their nights trailing dealers, making buys, and acquiring informants, in the hope that a small arrest could turn into a major case.

After months picking up scraps, a stray piece of information is about to put Wager on to the biggest bust of his career. A letter from the Seattle DEA says that an informant has named Denver’s Rare Thing Import Shop as a front for nearly a thousand pounds a week of smuggled marijuana. The case could make Wager’s career—if the smugglers don’t kill him first.


“There is a toughness in this book, a hard-core basalt toughness, but there is also a leavening of human understanding (the life-in-death of a police informer has seldom been more impressively defined), and even a kind of battered charm.” - The New Yorker 

“An excellent example of the police procedural genre, all the more noteworthy because it is a first novel.” - Independent Journal

“For police procedural fans, a new star has risen in the West. Rex Burns' The Alvarez Journal is superb. Absolutely authentic, absolutely gripping.” - Tony Hillerman 

“Burns has created the quintessential American detective: lean, tough and, lonely.” - Taos News

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