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Invisible Country: A Mystery Hardcover – July 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


The author's recreation of Paraguay in the 1860s is perfectly entwined with the plot…. Alfieri also expertly captures the stress and paranoia of life under a military dictatorship, reminding us that political violence and the manipulation of citizens by despots is nothing new. Fans of historical mysteries should not pass this one up. (Mystery Scene Magazine)

Alfieri's (City of Silver) luscious historical stand-alone set in remote Paraguay beautifully evokes a crushingly painful chapter in that country's history.... justice is meted out creatively in this original closed-room drama. (Library Journal)

The destruction of Paraguay in the 1860s by its three warring neighbors takes center stage in Alfieri's second South American historical (after 2009's City of Silver)...[A] vivid depiction of war-ravaged Paraguay. (Publishers Weekly)

Alfieri (City of Silver, 2009) has written an anti-war mystery that compares with the notable fiction of Charles Todd. (Kirkus Reviews)

A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller with a large cast of appealing characters, Invisible Country is a story about ordinary people struggling to survive. Kudos for a fascinating setting and for the unusual historical period that make this novel a refreshing, enjoyable read. (Historical Novel Society)

Love and hate, desperation and despair, terror and suspense, unexpected twists and outright surprises, Invisible Country has them all….No one is better at spinning South American mysteries than Annamaria Alfieri (Leighton Gage, author of A Vine in the Blood)

About the Author

Annamaria Alfieri's first novel, City of Silver, was named one of the best debut mysteries of the year by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine. She is president of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America and lives in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250004535
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250004536
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,126,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Annamaria Alfieri is the author of Blood Tango, which takes place in Buenos Aires in 1945 and imagines the murder of an Evita Perón lookalike. Kirkus Reviews said of her Invisible Country, "Alfieri has written an anti-war mystery that compares with the notable novels of Charles Todd." Deadly Pleasures Magazine called her City of Silver one of the best first novels of the year. The Washington Post said, "As both history and mystery, City of Silver glitters." Writing as Patricia King, she is also the author of the short story "Baggage Claim," in the anthology Queens Noir. Her five books on business subjects include Never Work for a Jerk, which was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and the current Monster Boss. A world traveler, Annamaria takes a keen interest in the history of the places she visits.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leighton D. Gage on July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Annamaria Alfieri's first novel, City of Silver, was set in seventeenth-century Potosi.
Now, in Invisible Country, she carries us two centuries forward, and a thousand kilometers away, to the little Paraguayan village of Santa Caterina.
As the book begins, the War of the Triple Alliance, the bloodiest clash in South American history is in its fourth year. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay continue to pursue their conflict of attrition against little Paraguay. Santa Caterina's crops and livestock have been consumed or confiscated for the war effort. People are starving. The young men of the village have been killed or conscripted. Only the old, the infirm, or those favored by Francisco Solano Lopéz, Paraguay's cruel dictator, remain.
The war would end almost two years in the future with the death of Lopéz and the dispatch, into exile, of Eliza Lynch, his mistress and partner in crime. But, at the time of the story, the country continues to live in fear of the ruling couple, and their stranglehold on the village is strong.
When Ricardo Yotté, a close ally of Lynch (an Irish adventuress whose real-life exploits shrink those of Evita Peron into near insignificance) is murdered, the dictator pressures his local Comandante, Luis Menenez to find the culprit.
Menenez knows his head will be on the block if he fails. A coward and a bully, he has no compunctions about accusing an innocent, even his war-hero brother-in-law, to save his own skin. So, to ensure that justice is done, a small band of Santa Caterina's prominent citizens takes the initiative to come together and root-out the killer.
In the end, they do. But it's just about the last person anyone would suspect.
Invisible Country excels as a mystery, but it's a lot more than that.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1868, the War of the Triple Alliance has devastated Paraguay. Ninety percent of the male population is dead. Most everyone is starving. The small village of Santa Caterina is no exception. Padre Gregorio Perez preaches a controversial sermon; he wants his congregation to enter into adulterous relationships in order to repopulate the dying country. Soon afterwards, he discovers an evil nobleman, Ricardo Yotte, lying dead in his church's belfry. Ricardo was good friends with Eliza Lynch, the vain, insensitive mistress of the country's maniac dictator, Mariscal Francisco Solano Lopez. Perez must find Yotte's killer before Comandante Luis Menenez arrests and tortures someone innocent in order to please the dictator and his mistress.

On the dedication page of her excellent historical mystery, "Invisible Country," Annamaria Alfieri states that her father, a combat Marine, returned from World War II a pacifist. He taught her to hate war. After reading "Invisible Country," I hate war more than ever. I too have become a sworn pacifist. I never knew the tremendous suffering of the Paraguayans during the War of the Triple Alliance until I read "Invisible Country." During some independent research, I was flabbergasted upon confirming that nearly ninety percent of the male population was destroyed thanks to the diabolical Lopez. I hope God has reserved a place for him in Hell next to Hitler and all the other warlords who began conflicts for personal gain. Lopez forced his men (some of them as young as ten years of age) to fight to the death; survivors were shot as traitors. The women were left at home to starve after livestock and other valuable possessions were seized for the war effort.
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By Theresa Rose on October 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Annamaria Alfieri writes like a painter. Her imagery is so colorful, the emotions so deep and vivid that this book became more real to me than my own life for a day. I picked up the book at the library because I loved the cover illustration and because my own long-ago adventure in South America begged to be re-visited. This is a novel of historical fiction revolving around the 1870's war between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay that devastated the country of Paraguay and birthed the black comic cliché of the stupidly ambitious Latin American Dictator (the El Supremo) that occasionally blunders through contemporary media.
The author does not shy away from the horrors of war: brutalization of children, torture, terror and waste, but the sheer beauty of the writing and the depth of love between the characters makes this story one that you never want to end. The way she can create a portrait of a character in just a few words, the engaging mystery (no one will ever guess the murderer) and the ending combining heartbreak and hope puts this novel firmly in the 5 star category. I can't wait to read City of Silver.
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