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The Neruda Case: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Roberto Ampuero
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $5.01 (31%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Published for the first time in English, an atmospheric, brilliant novel from an internationally bestselling literary luminary.

Roberto Ampuero’s novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brulé are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro’s Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature’s most beloved figures—Pablo Neruda.

Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life. As Cayetano fumbles around his first case, finding it hard to embrace the new inspector identity foisted upon him, he begins to learn more about Neruda’s hidden agenda. Neruda sends him on a whirlwind expedition around the world, ending back in Chile, where Pinochet’s coup plays out against the final revelations of their journey.

Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero’s novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era.

Editorial Reviews


"[Listen to] this one as much for the story as for the wonderful way Ampuero has with words." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

About the Author

Roberto Ampuero is the internationally bestselling, award-winning author of several novels in Spanish, including Nuestros Años Verde Olivo and ¿Quién mató a Cristián Kustermann?

Robertson Dean has recorded hundreds of audiobooks in most every genre. He's been nominated for several Audie Awards, won nine Earphones Awards, and was named one of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of 2010.

Product Details

  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead; Reprint edition (June 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101585676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101585672
  • ASIN: B0074VTHHK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,513 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cayetano Brule, an unemployed Cuban in Valparaiso, escapes the tedium of a cocktail party one evening by disappearing into the library while the party is being held. He hopes to avoid chatting, but when an intruder enters and comments on the indignities of old age in vivid terms, Cayetano wonders aloud if the man might be a writer. When Cayetano turns around, he finds himself staring at Pablo Neruda, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, just two years before. Then Cayetano learns that Neruda has a mission for him, his first job as a private detective - to find a man Neruda has not seen for over thirty years, using skills he must learn through reading Simenon's Maigret novels and through on-the-job training.

Within the story of Cayetano's mission for Neruda, author Roberto Ampuero incorporates both the historical and contemporary history of Valparaiso and the political turmoil that roiled the country from the 1970s - 1990s. A ferocious earthquake in 1906 killed three thousand people and devastated the city, and in 1914 the Panama Canal opened and permanently ended Valparaiso's prosperity as a resupply stop for trips around Cape Horn. By 1971, President Salvador Allende, in the second year of his term, is the first Marxist ever to be elected president in open elections, and now, in 1973, Cayetano, his wife, and Neruda are ardent supporters, their politics representing an unusual point of view for most western readers.

As Cayetano tries to fulfill his task for Neruda, he travels throughout Mexico, Cuba, East Germany, and Bolivia, interviewing people from teachers to archivists. He is desperate to help Neruda, who is obviously dying of cancer. Dr.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and poetic--a prize of a literary mystery August 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As someone who reads about 2-3 books a week, it is easy for me to become jaded by the books on the market right now. The hyped books rarely deliver, particularly in the literary category, yet The Neruda Case turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The subject matter, dealing with Chile, Cuba, East Berlin and Bolivia in the tumultuous seventies, was fascinating and the tidbits about Neruda (I admit I am a fan) delightful. What I liked best, was Ampuero's frequent ruminations as expressed through his very likeable, very intelligent and observant protagonist, Catelano Brule. Ampuero succeeds in bringing characters to life as well as the countries they visit. While many novels fail nowadays with their political high-handedness and political pressure tactics, Ampuero offers a balanced, more philosophical (although some may find it cynical) view of politics and history through Brule's POV. I found Brule endearing, and enjoyed his observations about life, food, wine, poetry, and revolutionaries, as much as I did the mystery he wove. At times, particularly in the use of dialogue, I felt the translation (or the writing) fell short, but the narrative translation was poetic and beautiful. I would recommend The Neruda Case to anyone interested in the effects of politics on individual life and liberty, poetry and its relationship to reality, and philosophical questions about life, meaning, reality, the role of disguise in life, and identity. This literary mystery was thought-provoking and a worthwhile read. I only wish more of Ampuero's work was translated! For those wanting a traditional page-turning, impossible to put down mystery, this book is not for you. Rather, it is a tale to be savored, much like Neruda's poetry. Ampuero brought Chile alive for me and made me want to visit despite some of the tragic political events described. He is a sensual writer with a deep sensibility and connection to profound ideas.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great historical novel August 16, 2012
Disclosure: I received an uncorrected proof copy for free from the publishers for an unbiased review.

The Neruda Case has a few things going against it, for many english-speaking readers:

It's a translation from Spanish.

It is a prequel, written in 2008 after a series of five Cayetano Brulé mysteries (not translated into English, so we don't know the character):

(1993), ¿Quién mató a Cristián Kustermann?
(1994), Boleros en La Habana
(1996), El alemán de Atacama
(2004), Cita en el Azul Profundo (novela policial)
(2005), Halcones de la noche

It's a really ambitious book, attempting to

1. Provide a backstory for the detective Cayetano Brulé

2. Incorporate the life, loves and poetry of Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda

3. Re-examine leftist thought and culture of the 1970s

4. Portray the idealism and tragedy of the brief Allende reform government

5. Explore the broader history of all Latin America, from pre-Columbian times to the present

6. And, of course, tell a mystery story.

For me, the best parts of the book were its historical elements; this is a great historical novel, immersing the reader in a specific time and place.

I learned a lot reading this book. It broadened my perspective.

I also liked the rich sensory detail, the feel and sound and scent of the cities Cayetano visits in his international quest, the way coffee tastes different in different cultures.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Read
Ampuero’s novel, The Neruda Case, is divided into five parts, each one named after a woman whom Pablo Neruda is involved with over his lifetime, either as mistress or spouse. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Angel Lover
4.0 out of 5 stars If you are interested about the historic 1973 military coup ...
If you are interested about the historic 1973 military coup to Allende's government in Chile
and Pablo Neruda's life loves, this will be an eye opening fictional narrative.
Published 4 months ago by pat quiroz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent as a novel and as history
Shows a lot about the situation in Chile during the last days of Salvador Allende. Brule gets into the list of my favorite detectives like Carvalho and Montalbano.
Published 9 months ago by Jose Bellora
4.0 out of 5 stars Too bad more of his stories have not been translated into English
The Neruda case is an unusual mystery. The background is helpful in educating the reader. It seems the author has much in common with the Nobel prize winner, Neruda.
Published 10 months ago by Annanelle Hardt
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive
I bought this book after I finished reading the Ruiz Zafon trilogy books (angels game, shadow of the wind, prisoners heaven). Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jess
4.0 out of 5 stars The Neruda Case
It was well written and the main character of the story was interesting in that he had a conscience and still believed in the honor system of keeping his word. Read more
Published 17 months ago by IL book worm
5.0 out of 5 stars History writ large
This book is written with the background of factual history, includes a revealing portrait of Pablo Neruda and has the overlay of a detective story. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sumana
4.0 out of 5 stars ARC - Wonderful Book
After reading this fine book, I was bemused that I enjoyed it so much, especially since the latest mystery/detective trend appears to make a character that is curious by nature,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Robert C. Fowler
5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a book
What a surprise! This is such an interesting read. Ampuero transports you to many other countries; I learned a lot more about Pablo Neruda, and political situations through the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Barbara C
5.0 out of 5 stars the Neruda Case
The Neruda Case was a wonderful read. I had a sister in law who was recruited right out of high school by a communist front group in Oakland CA. at about the time of this story. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Walter L. Fisher
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