cover image Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears

Mercedes Rosende, trans. from the Spanish by Tim Gutteridge. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-913394-43-1

Uruguayan author Rosende showcases her considerable talent in this offbeat crime novel, her English-language debut. Diego , who’s been imprisoned for kidnapping Montevideo businessman Santiago Losada, is released after Losada’s wife, Ursula López, denies to the authorities that Diego demanded a ransom for her husband’s safe return—because Diego accidentally called a different Ursula López. Once Diego’s free, he hooks up with Ricardo Prieto (aka the Hobo), a murderer who has recently escaped from prison, and joins the Hobo’s plot to rob an armored car. Police captain Leonilda Lima, who’s been disappointed with how her career’s unfolded, gets word of the plan and hopes that thwarting it will reward her professionally. Vivid descriptive prose enhances the action, such as a passage that contrasts a real court waiting room with how American TV shows depict such spaces (“The outside world would wrinkle its nose if it entered this place, where prisoners wait for hours and days”). Rosende smoothly combines dark humor and farce with moving depictions of the grimmer aspects of life. Elmore Leonard fans will look forward to the sequel. (Feb.)