A past crime comes back to haunt a Buenos Aires architect in Claudia Piñeiro’s A Crack in the Wall, the latest from Argentina’s leading crime writer.
Where did the idea for the book originate?
The ideas at the origin of my novels always start with an image. In this case, it’s an image in the first chapter: Pablo is drawing the building of his dreams, one that he would like to build but that he probably never will. He is drawing his utopia, while looking out of the corner of his eye at a female colleague that he desires, knowing full well that a body lies buried under the building they are working on.
How would the story/characters have differed if set in another Latin American city?
Buenos Aires, and Argentina more generally, is rife with urban myths about dead people buried right under our feet. They say—it’s an unverifiable urban myth—that some of the dead of the dictatorship are buried under the highway that goes from Buenos Aires to Ezeiza airport. So the fact that a body is buried under a building appears less surprising than in another city.
What would you identify as the book's themes?
There are many: middle-age crisis, unfulfilled fantasies, unrealized desire, daily life that is made bearable by the hope that at any moment everything can change, Rrules established by those in power that the others must obey, appearances, guilt.
Are those themes shared with your previous books?
Yes, for example, the obsession with appearances of some of my characters; [they are often] worried about what other people will say.
What appeals to you about writing about crime?
I start writing without knowing that a crime will appear. I want to tell a story, and in the course of writing it a crime surfaces with its violence, an enigma to solve, but I believe mine are social novels rather than crime novels.
What does Leonard Cohen’s music represent to you and how does that connect with the book?
I tried to find a singer that I like, but also someone who could serve as a generational link between the father, Pablo Simon, and his daughter. It’s the daughter who listens to the music, even if it’s a song of her father’s era.
Did your work as an accountant influence your fiction?
No, I don’t think it’s had much influence. I began writing during the time I worked as an accountant; I did both at the same time. I do owe to my previous occupation a respect for deadlines; I deliver my work on time, and without mistakes. Everything else comes from somewhere else.