From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Set in the fictional oil port of Paracuán, Mexican author Solares's debut deftly treads a risky tightrope between police procedural and surreal fantasy. Someone kills young journalist Bernardo Blanco while he's investigating a 20-year-old case involving the serial torture-murders of young girls, violations so horrifying that they sicken even hardened cops. Solares unflinchingly follows both detective Ramón Cabrera, who's assigned to Blanco's murder, and detective Vicente Rangel González, who investigated the original crimes, two idealists barely keeping themselves afloat in a sea of corruption, as they uncover layer after layer of depravity. With continually shifting perspectives and nightmarish intrusions—real or imagined?—of actual people like B. Traven (the enigmatic author of Treasure of the Sierra Madre
), this haunting novel forces readers to confront that bedeviling paradox of human nature, the eternal mystery of wickedness. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* At first, the sheer exuberant inventiveness of this remarkable Mexican debut may mystify some American crime-fiction fans. If those readers give it a chance, however, they may wonder why the authors they usually read are so risk-averse. Set in the made-up port city of Paracuán, on the Gulf of Mexico, the story starts in present time, with policeman Ramón “El Macetón” Cabrera assigned to the career- and life-endangering investigation of a journalist’s murder. Then the story leaps back in time to the 1970s and Vicente Rangel González’s search for a serial killer who preys on young schoolgirls. El Macetón and Rangel are good cops struggling against a culture of shocking corruption, dogged by uneducated colleagues, crooked politicians, and scoop-hungry tabloid journalists. This view is vivid enough, but it’s Solares’ prose—alternately playful, poetic, and plainspoken—that propels the pages. Some fantastic elements of Latin American fiction, such as dreams and ghosts, are present, but they won’t be dealbreakers for crime fans who don’t like magical realism. Supporting characters offer “testimony,” usually enhancing the plot, but in one hilarious instance taking a left turn, never to return. As the plot paths converge, we see how the tragic past becomes the tragic present: “As happens everywhere, the city grew up around its tombs.” Rarely has gross miscarriage of justice been so satisfying. --Keir Graff