As You Look by Veronica Gutierrez is a mystery novel introducing us to the former LAPD cop turned private investigator, Yolanda Ávila.

Yolanda wakes up from a dream about her six year old god child being drugged in an alley. Later that day her dream seems to have come true when she gets a phone call that he is missing Yolanda’s friend, the child’s mother, is worried. He was last seen with his father.

Yolanda immediately goes to work investigating the boy’s disappearance and discovers that his father dropped him off a little way from school so the child could walk and feel grown up.

The case gets complicated though because Yolanda doesn’t want to acknowledge her prophetic dreams, which she calls juju. She has a bad history with them and carries a boatload of guilt. When her brother and wife both encourage her to lean into the juju she is forced to deal with her guilt.

Now Yolanda needs to find the missing child, figure out who is involved and navigate all this while dealing with the juju.

But is she strong enough to handle it all at once?

Pros And My Favourite Parts

Yolanda is a relatable character, I like that in a sleuth. I also loved the fact that she is already in an established marriage. The support and stable relationship was relatable. The kinds of conversations and way the couple behave around one another felt genuine which is something I don’t see a lot in lesfic.

I also enjoyed the racial diversity in the book. It read like a slice of the real world and it was done in a way that gave personality to characters regardless of race without making everyone sound white. Folks looking to include racial diversity can learn something from this book.

I also like how the book ends in a way that wraps up the story both from the mystery point of view and Yolanda’s personal journey but it also allows us to be poised on the edge of new challenges for our heroine.


There were times I became confused by the array of characters especially when so many of them had similar sounding names or names that ended with the y sound – Andy, Jesse, Sydney, Manny.

The book could also have used a good editor. There were times when information was repeated within the same page or few pages which was unnecessary and slowed down the story.

The Conclusion

Gutierrez is an author to keep an eye on. I believe that we will see some interesting things from the Yolanda Ávila series down the line.

Don’t expect a typical mystery because this isn’t one but it’s a good book to pick up if you want something different that reads more like a slice of life.

Excerpt from As You Look by Veronica Gutierrez

Inching along the westbound 10, I thought I’d make the conversation with Jesse a quick one, because we both knew where I stood on letting dreams dictate our actions. He insisted I was in denial about psychic messages. And when I said I just didn’t want to think about it, I got a lecture on some philosopher who equated avoidance with denial. I wasn’t looking forward to resurfacing the argument, but I’d promised Sydney, and now my good mood diminished along with the sunlight behind a dirty dishwater sky. June gloom had set in early, and a fire raging in Griffith Park only made the air quality worse. Like everyone but the firefighters, I wished for the cleansing Santa Ana winds as I crept along in traffic.

The midafternoon traffic toward downtown was almost as heavy as the early rush-hour traffic heading away from it, unusual, even by LA standards. Either there was an accident ahead or I was caught in one of the traffic waves emanating from the fire two freeways away. I switched my satellite radio from Mexican boleros to classic rock. The Rolling Stones are better for dealing with bottlenecks. An electronic freeway sign flashed ahead, too far away to make out the message. Something about the fire, no doubt. Creeping closer, I could make out the traffic picking up again after the sign.

I was about to curse the slow readers and the high-tech distraction when I read the Amber Alert: “CHILD ABDUCTION—SILVER JAGUAR” and a license number. Well, at least the Jaguar made it sound more like a custody dispute than a pedophile case. Pedophile kidnappers don’t usually drive Jags. The news had been reporting on a serial kidnapper taking little boys in the desert county east of Los Angeles. He hadn’t ventured into the LA area as far as I knew. And like most of my friends, I hoped he wasn’t Black or Latino. My stomach tightened, something other than a pedophile and fear of resurgent hate crimes nagging at me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I switched the radio to an all-news station but didn’t hear anything about the Amber Alert before reaching Dad’s house. My brother’s beat-up Honda Civic blocked the driveway. He was reaching the porch steps when I pulled up to the curb and lowered the passenger window.

“Road hog!” I shouted.

Jesse turned around, glanced at his car, and smiled. My twenty-six-year-old brother, younger than me by four years, was home from school. Sometimes I wondered whether he went to class at all. Who would have time to do that and be involved in every political cause on the Eastside and on UCLA’s Westwood campus?

“You should move your carcancha up the driveway before Dad gets home. Ditching class again?” I stepped out of my good-as-new, green Subaru Forester. I hadn’t wanted a black car, but dark green looks black at night and is ideal for nighttime surveillance.

Jesse ignored my suggestion but stopped at the porch steps.

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A Yolanda Ávila Mystery

As You Look


Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9781642473445

Publisher: Bella Books

Veronica Gutierrez Online

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