cover image Mapuche


Caryl Ferey, trans. from the French by Steve Rendall. Europa/World Noir, $18 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-60945-120-2

This hard-hitting crime novel from Ferey (Zulu) revolves around Argentina's Dirty War, during which as many as 30,000 people were murdered by their government, reported as "disappeared." Even after 30 years, its shadow still blankets the country. Mapuche Indian Jana, a sculptress forced into prostitution, attempts to solve the brutal murder of her friend Luz, a transvestite and fellow prostitute. Meanwhile, PI Ruben Calderon, a Dirty War victim, is researching the disappearance of well-to-do Maria Victoria Campallo. Jana and Ruben soon realize their intersecting searches for justice have made them and their friends targets for dangerous men, who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. The action is sometimes sacrificed in favor of exposition for readers unfamiliar with the history involved, and the occasional, mercifully brief sex scenes are unfortunate. That said, the author is skilled at getting the reader to invest in the fates of Jana, Ruben, and the lesser characters. Anger at justice deferred in real life fuels operatic celebrations of cathartic vengeance. (July)