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The Uncomfortable Dead Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Mexican crime writer Taibo and a real-life spokesperson for the Zapatista movement, Subcomandante Marcos, provide alternating chapters for this postmodern comedic mystery about good, evil and modern revolutionary politics. Elías Contreras, a detective for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (and Marcos's creation), heads to Mexico City to investigate the case of a nefarious government-backed murderer named Morales. Taibo brings back one-eyed Mexico City detective Héctor Belascoarán Shayne (Return to the Same City, etc.), who becomes involved in the case when he learns of strange telephone messages about this same Morales. Taibo's expertise ensures a smart, funny book, and Marcos brings a wry sense of humor. The authors mix mystery with metafiction: characters operate from beyond the grave or chat about the roles they play in the novel, and Marcos writes his fictional self into the story. Literary readers will nod and smile knowingly, though serious mystery devotees who prefer more grounded noir might be mildly annoyed by the hijinks. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Told in alternating chapters, Taibo's striking collaboration with the charismatic leftist leader known as Subcomandante Marcos is a curious animal, laying forth planks in the Zapatistas' platform for the rights of indigenous peoples against globalization and privatization with subversive, comic panache. Taibo's one-eyed detective, Hector Belascoaran, finds more questions than answers in his ongoing quest to vanquish evil, this time in the shadowy form of one (or more) Morales, who may have killed a ghost now leaving messages on answering machines around Mexico City. The quixotic Marcos' inspired contribution is Elias Conteras, an ingenuous investigator from Chiapas imbued with the soul of Sancho Panza. Elias' charming irreverence fits well in the anarchic eclecticism that governs the fictional universe of Taibo, whose fans will hardly be surprised to find a porn actor who looks like Osama Bin Laden tossed in with Pancho Villa, Barney the dinosaur, and Gustav Mahler. As one might expect, the political trumps the personal in this curious mix of crime novel and position paper, but it is just strange enough to attract a cult audience. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
The Uncomfortable Dead started slowly especially the chapters written by Marcos and I was beginning to be disappointed, although happy to support the effort. I am not a big fan of detective novels in the first place but do enjoy reading a well written book with well developed characters which creates a truly mystery and intricate and plausible plot. Marcos character Elias Contreras along with the early views and less than subtle foreshadowing by Zapatista revolutionary touristas seemed unnecessarily repetitive and the crime was not clear. It was almost as if Marcos was being paid by the word and was earning some extra cash by being verbose and obtuse. Paco Taibo's chapters were much better, but Marcos picked up the pace around mid book and his chapters improved immensely. As a result the book became much more interesting, and by the end I was hoping it would continue beyond the last page.
The plot revolves around a lot of Mexico's past political criminality and corruption using real characters, including President Zedillo who most recently claimed because he was president of Mexico he could not be held accountable for the crimes against humanity committed by the Mexican Army in the massacre in Acteal in 1997. (His claim is not supported by international law.) Mexico's Dirty War of disappearances greed and corruption take center stage as Pan and PRI politicians join forces to enrich themselves at the expense of the Mexican people, shifting effortlessly from government to membership on International corporate boards bent on profiting from privatization.
Marcos gives a glimpse into life in the Zapatista world, from the voices of international volunteers to the functioning of the Zapatista justice system. Marcos even pokes fun at himself and life in the autonomous indigenous zone, and addresses issues surrounding the role of women in the Zapatista communities, which I found interesting. Having been there always makes such topographical details more interesting and real.
The Uncomfortable Dead names and connects real historic persons from Zedillo to Vincentes Fox and his wife to the Bush regime and connects those names with neo liberal efforts to gain personal wealth through government, connections and policy, corrupt deals and swindles.
Elias Contreras travels from Chiapas to the Monster (Mexico City) to join forces with Taibo's character Hecter Belascoaran in solving the mystery and crime. In Mexico City phone messages left on an answering machine from a long dead student activist connects with the plot to acquire land and profit in the international bio reserve of Monte Azules and destroy indigenous efforts at self autonomy. The bad and the evil are addressed and right wing corporate networks connections to Mexico's Dirty War exposed along the way of discovering who Morales - (who was not Morales) is.
Not the best detective Mystery I've ever read but interesting enough to make it worthwhile especially if you consider the possibility of the truth behind the books pages.
I gave it a 2 - because in a heads up comparison with some of the best books ever written(5 stars??) Like War and Peace; As I lay Dying, etc a 2 is pretty generous. Maybe within the Detective Novel genre which is generally lacking in literary merit, it should be a star higher(I've read much worse Detective books.)but I'm a strict critic.