cover image Four Hands

Four Hands

Paco Ignacio Taibo, II. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (378pp) ISBN 978-0-312-10987-5

Deadly tricks of the international spy trade illuminate various tactics of survival, collaboration, disinformation--and the creative process--in this complex tale of journalism and subversion in Latin America. Cycling back and forth in time and through a protean array of distinct narrative voices and points of view, Mexican crime novelist Taibo ( No Happy Ending ) gradually gives shape to a whirlwind of brief fragments from the lives of his diverse characters. These include Leon Trotsky, Stan Laurel and Houdini, each of whom is presented in an unexpected but somehow credible context. The various narrative threads intersect in 1980s Mexico, where Alex, who comes from an obscure intelligence office in New York, orchestrates his masterpiece of deception, a scheme to vilify the Sandinista leadership in Nicaragua; and where two journalists, Julio and Greg, bring their eponymous four hands together to tell the tale. Taibo's prose is rich in metaphor, and his confident, insightful storytelling makes the individual pieces of his novel intriguing long before the connections among them are apparent. Dail's translation does fine justice to the author's colorful, virtuosic narrative. (July)