Thursday 14 June 2018


Scratching my head, I can't actually recall whether I've read anything from this continent or not - probably not then.

There's a  couple here from Brazil and four from Argentina, no other country on the continent has a presence in the collection.

Sergio Bizzio, Particia Melo, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Guillermo Orsi, Ernesto Mallo and Ricardo Piglia....

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza - The Silence of the Rain (2002)

The first in a seven book series. Somewhat foolishly, I think I have most of them despite never having read him. Go figure.

The first in a stunning new literary crime series featuring Detective Espinosa of the Rio de Janeiro Police Department. A handsome young businessman is found dead in downtown Rio, a suicide who left no note, who had everything to live for. But by the time the police are called, all traces of the man's identity and the weapon have been removed. Then as Detective Espinosa discovers that the man moved in the upper echelons of Rio society, and meets his beguiling and remarkable wife, clues to the way he lived and how he died lead Espinosa tantalisingly close to the truth. But is he on the right track?

Serge Bizzio - Rage (2009)
I think this is his only novel, or at least the only one translated into English

"A portrait etched in acid of a Buenos Aires society menaced by economic and political crisis. Without value judgement but with light irony, Bizzio reveals the ugly secrets of a family, seen through the eyes of his naive squatter. The imagery is often blinding and the dialogue pitch-perfect." - Le Temps

Jose Maria, a construction worker, is in love with Rosa, a maid in an exclusive Buenos Aires mansion. Subjected to constant humiliation by his foreman, Jose Maria kills him, then hides on an empty floor in the mansion. He silently observes the decadent behavior of the owners and watches Rosa in her most intimate moments. Jose Maria is also privy to more humiliating experiences - he watches as Rosa is raped by the young son of the family, and so he must kill again.

A metaphor for the decline of a social class, a country, and the resentment that spreads like a plague penetrating to the core of its people, Rage is also a tale of love and suspense that raises the tension with each successive page until it unavoidably shifts toward an intimate, shattering catastrophe. Humor, misfortune, shrewd social commentary, and thrilling erotic fantasy come together, offering the reader an inside vision of contemporary Argentina.

Guillermo Orsi - Holy City (2012)
I think this was a Poundland bargain a few years ago. Not sure when I'll get around to reading it. It seems to have lost its appeal at the minute.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. A passenger liner runs aground on the muddy banks of the nearby Rio de la Plata. The passengers are reduced to sleeping in the corridors of hotels and fall easy prey to the city's criminal class, who are always willing to take a wealthy tourist hostage. The first to go missing are a Colombian drug baron and his girlfriend, apprehended by Federal Police who may or may not be all they claim to be. But criminal celebrities of this calibre are a valuable commodity, and their abductor soon finds that the couple has been lifted from under his nose. Into the confusion steps Walter Carroza, a weary but honest cop. With his sidekick and confidante, Veronica Berutti, a policeman's widow and crusading lawyer, he embarks on an investigation that will lead him from the shanty markets of Buenos Aires' Bolivian quarter through layer upon layer of corruption towards the 'Holy Land', a theme park based on ancient Palestine, where a killer with a grisly taste for memorabilia lurks.

Ricardo Piglia - Money to Burn (2003)

Probably the one from the six that shouts out to me the most. I do like my tales of robberies and heists, more than murders.

Love and betrayal complicate a robbery gone wrong in this edgy true-crime novel based on a 1965 Argentine bank robbery. There's the drama of the botched raid itself, followed by a blowout afterparty, an attempted double-crossing of the corrupt local authorities, and a final shootout where, as a last act of rebellion, the robbers burn all the loot. This gritty tale has been adapted for a major motion picture by renowned Argentine director Marcelo Pinyero.

Ernesto Mallo - Sweet Money (2011)

Needle in a Haystack is the first in the series.

In the second book in the Superintendent Lascano series, Lascano is drawn into a war between the Buenos Aires chief of police and the Apostles, drug-dealing cops who want to control the city. When the chief of police is murdered, Lascano becomes the Apostles' next target. His only way out of the country is to retrieve the loot from a bungled bank robbery. 

Ernesto Mallo paints a scathing portrait of Argentina, where the Junta's generals are paraded in court in civilian clothes and treated like mere petty thieves. Corruption and violence continue to rule, but at the center of the novel lies a touching portrayal of two broken men, a cop and a robber, whose humanity is sorely tested by the troubles racking their beloved country.

Patricia Melo - The Killer (1997)

I've a few of her books on the pile, but not got around to her yet.

The Killer follows the incandescently gory trial of Maiqeul, a casual hood in a poor part of Sao Paulo as he escalates to the protected glory of full-blooded organised crime. It starts with an innocent hairdying scene, followed by sex and a murder, as chillingly incidental as the opening to Camus' L'Etranger. Melo enters the naive, brutal and oddly sympathetic mind of the killer with a poetic stream of consciousness that grips you till the relentless end. There is a quiet gentleness reminiscent of Banana Yoshimoto, mixed with the coolly horrific imagination of Quentin Tarantino: "I learned to walk once I started using weapons. To crush sidewalks." The long sentences build into a ferocious rhythm of panic, fear and lawlessness. The more Maiquel assassinates, the more he is praised by the community, until he kills the wrong kid. As hatred accumulates, the prose reaches a violent splendour that is a rush to read. Even his love life is tragically flawed as he gets the good girl pregnant and falls for the bad babe, Erica. "I hate you, out, love is a detonator, spitting in the face, out, explosive charges, signed Erica, pain, I was exhausted ..." With clever, deadpan satire, Melo pulls off a fabulous critique of class hatred, legal hypocrisy and anomie. Superb. --Cherry Smyth


  1. I think you will like Melo's work, Col. And it's good to see you have some Mallo on the heap, too. Oh, and if you ever get the chance, you might also try Leighton Gage. I think you'll really like his work, too.

    1. Margot, I forget I have all these wonders in the stacks. Hopefully, I'll get them back into the new house - soon! Gage is one I could possibly have mentioned but forgot, so thanks for the reminder.

  2. Oh, lawks, off to the library catalogue again . . .

    1. Ha, keeps you out of mischief I expect. If I do a random six from Scandi at least there a good chance you've read them all!

  3. Doubt it. I've read a few Scandi crime novels, but it's only a small percentage of what's out there.

  4. I was convinced you'd once reco'ed an Argentine book to me, but I just checked back and it was an American author, Gregory Widen, writing about the Perons, and very good it was too: it was called Blood Makes Noise. I don't think I've read any South American crime books, in that case, though have read some straight novels.

    1. I did like that Widen book, I wonder if he's written anything else?

  5. I have read the first two books in the Detective Espinosa series by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, and just recently purchased the 3rd one. I like that series but cannot say if it will appeal to you. I am interested in trying Melo and Mallo but don't have any of their books yet (and plenty others to try first).

    1. Tracy, I hope I enjoy the Espinosa series. Money down the drain otherwise!

  6. Col – Thanks for the list. MONEY TO BURN and SWEET MONEY are the ones that interest me.

    1. Going by the covers and the blurbs, these two sign out to me the most Elgin. The Melo a close third I think.