cover image Return to the Same City

Return to the Same City

Paco Ignacio Taibo, II. Mysterious Press, $25 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-590-8

Taibo's novels about Mexico City detective Hector Belascoaran Shayne (No Happy Ending) are an addicting import. At first, their hard-boiled surrealistic flights--as if Garcia Marquez had been taking writing lessons from Dashiell Hammett--can strike a reader as excessive and glib, but soon they become part of a beguiling worldview in which everything, including crime and love, are elements in a cosmic joke. So you find here that Hector, left a bullet-riddled corpse in the rain in No Happy Ending, has been miraculously resurrected for another case. It involves a shadowy figure with several names, who seems to have caused the suicide of someone's sister and is being pursued by an alcoholic American reporter with sources in the CIA. Is the many-aliased Luke Estrella also involved in a guns-for-drugs Contra operation? Hector doesn't really care, but sets off in dogged pursuit anyway, to Acapulco, then Tijuana, finally bringing matters to a head in a hilarious climax involving several hired mariachi bands, armed to the teeth, in an empty warehouse. Don't forget the two ducks that live under Hector's bed, and how down he gets when he runs out of Coke. As noted, these tales are an easily acquired taste. (Sept.)