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Who Killed Palomino Molero?: A Novel Paperback – June 24, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The distinguished Peruvian novelist (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter et al.) examines the more sinister aspects of human nature in this story of political and psychological corruption. "Written with colloquial ease and gritty dialogue, this taut narrative propels the reader to its disturbing denouement, leaving provocative questions in its wake," wrote PW.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Vargas Llosa's fiction is distinguished by his wit, his taste for irony and his disposition to engage the complexities of existence with an insight that distains glib moralizing or ideological rigor.” ―Robert Stone, The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Noonday Press; Reprint edition (June 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374525569
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First this is a crisp short book that is well worth the time to read. The setting alone is quite different from most mysteries/police procedurals. A peruvian Air Force Airman is brutally murdered and two local Guardia Civil Policeman must find the killer before their small town goes crazy thinking they are protecting the "big guys." They get no help from the Air Force officials. Character devleopment is remarkably good for such a short book and you will grow to appreciate Lituma and the Lieutenant and hope that the first LLosa mystery will include more stories of this pair. My only complaint is that 10 bucks is a lot to ask for a book that will take you 3 hours to read.
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Format: Paperback
Eminent Peruvian novelist Llosa tries his hand at the crime story with this police procedural set in 1950s Peru. He doesn't stray too far from the tropes of the genre, as a crafty Guarda Civil Lieutenant and his sentimental Sergeant run afoul of powerful military types as they investigate the torture and murder of a young airman from a nearby Air Force base. Still, in this novella length story, he manages to produce a remarkable amount of character development with the two policeman, including an offbeat subplot about the Lieutenant's infatuation with a pudgy married cook. Unsurprisingly, as they slowly unfold the circumstances surrounding the young man's killing, issues of race, class, and corruption come to the fore. And, with such a buildup, it should come as no surprise that the resolution is more bitter than sweet. In sum, this is a relatively minor work from a major writer.
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Format: Paperback
"Who Killed Palomino Molero?" is Mario Vargas Llosa's first stab at the detective thriller genre and it's a winner! Llosa uses the premise of a murder mystery to explore the theme of innocence and guilt in a society that's so ridden with corruption that the concept of justice is all but an illusion. There is no sense of relief in the denouement when the truth is told and the identity of the killer is revealed. Just like Alicia, the Colonel's daughter, the people of Talara suffer from permanent delusion, preferring to ignore the facts and attribute all of society's ills to "the big boys". Lituma is Lieutenant Silva's foil but also Llosa's voice. Through his ruminations and asides, Llosa articulates his horror of corruption and racism that permeate Peruvian life. Never making heavy weather of serious themes, Llosa infuses the novel with such sidesplitting humour you can't help but revel in Silva's obsessive lust over the voluptuous Dona Adriana. His sense of comedy and intuitive grasp of what's funny is displayed none more convincingly than in the final scene when the lady turns the tables on Silva. This is definitely one of the most captivating and enjoyable books I have read all year. Don't miss it !
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Format: Paperback
I loved the book. It was based on real events as witnessed by my father in the airforce base of Talara (Peru). Palomino is the sacrificial lamb of jelaousy and later corruption. A great read for a change of pace.
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Format: Paperback
The time is the 1950s, the place is Peru, and the victim is a young air force enlisted man named Palomino Molero, in Mario Vargas Llosa's spare, tightly written and excellently constructed whodunit. Palomino Molero, eighteen years old, a guitar player who enchanted everyone for miles around singing boleros, is found brutally tortured and murdered near a local air force base.

Two civil guards, Officer Lituma and Lieutenant Silva, try to unravel the crime. Rumors abound all over the place; the victim was involved in smuggling or the like and the higher-ups are covering up the perpetrators. But when Silva and Lituma find out that what Palomino Molero was involved in was not smuggling but a love affair with the daughter of his base commander, the plot thickens in all kinds of ways.

Vargas Llosa's book is not only a crime novel but a bitter indictment of the social/racial conflicts of modern Peru, where an airman cannot fall in love with the daughter of a colonel, especially if she is white and he is a cholo (half-breed). Vargas Llosa knows how to leaven his story with comic relief; Lieutenant Silva is hopelessly in love with and shamelessly pursuing the respectably married Dona Adriana, and her revenge on him for his presumption is a riot. The murder is solved, but the townspeople won't accept the truth, and insist that they were right all along; there were "higher-ups" involved. "Higher-ups" indeed.

It would be a crime in itself to give the solution away and I'm not going to; suffice to say that Vargas Llosa has written a gem of a murder mystery with an ingenious plot twist. It's a very short novel and shows again that some of the best things come in small packages.

Judy Lind
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I fell in love with Vargas Llosa's bewitching style less than a month ago, when I read my first novel by this brilliant author, "Death in the Andes," also a detective story, but published 7 years after "Who Killed Palomino Molero," in 1993. I immediately took up "War of the End of the World," a Masterpiece, which I am still trudging through, while lightening up the load with brief forays such as this small treasure.

Just as these other two Vargas Llosa novels, "Who Killed Palomino Molero" is more poetic rendering of the humanity's tribulations and propensity for hope than a complex, fast paced story. Unlike most modern fiction, which pulls readers in through plot twists, action, and constant end of chapter "cliff hangers," inducing them to forget the writing and word choice and to follow through to the end for curiosity about what happens, Vargas Llosa's work is brilliant because his stories are secondary, they are merely a vehicle for his insightful and beautifully written commentary (Do not misunderstand me: I love a good story, as modern technology, film/TV and other forms of entertainment have taught us to do; as time passes, we tend to be less patient, more eager for action than for thought--but few writers, such as Vargas Llosa, still have the power to capture attention and remind us that there is much more to be gained by savoring life than by rushing through it).
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