A first for crimeworm – a book from South America!
Yes – as far as I can recall, we’ve been to Mexico (as recently as a couple of months ago, with the wonderful More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez.) Books like that, and so many of the Orenda list, have given me a keen taste for translated fiction, and this is another to add to the growing list of authors whose backlists I’ll be chasing up! Bitter Lemon Press are an imprint who specialise in crime fiction from less well-trodden parts of the globe, and every book of theirs I’ve read this year has impressed me immensely – as well as educated me about the different issues that confront the different settings.
But this is in fact the third book in the Veronica Rosenthal series…
Yes, although I didn’t realise that when I began reading it (the cover of my copy doesn’t mention this fact, unlike the one illustrated above.) I also have a tendency to just open a book and see where it takes me – I tend only to look at the blurb when the initial blog tour invites are sent out, and I decide if the book appeals.
It did take a little bit of catching up, and putting together of each character’s back story, but once I’d pieced it all together, well, by that point I was enthralled by the plot. Approached by Dario, who’s decidedly unimpressed with the police investigation into the colossal car accident that killed several people, including – allegedly – his wife and daughter, Veronica agrees that their work was sloppy, but feels he may well be reaching somewhat to declare that his wife and daughter miraculously survived too, and that she has abducted Jazmin by faking their deaths and disappearing.
But there’s a bit more to the family’s story than that, isn’t there?
When Dario discloses that, in Jazmin’s case, DNA comparison of any remains from the accident with him will be useless, given that she’s adopted, Veronica senses there’s more to the adoption than he’s revealing. And what a can of worms this opens up – it turns out that the adoption was arranged on the quiet, through the Catholic Church and with the aid of a printer to produce a “new” birth certificate. And, obviously, if one child was essentially “sold” to an affluent but childless city family, the question is immediately – how many others also were? And from where is the Church obtaining these infants? Apparently based on a real case, it’s a cracking storyline for an investigative journalist to get her teeth into.
But there are some particularly gruesome goings-on in the work of Veronica’s ex, prosecutor Federico, aren’t there?
Raiding a van with the expectation of finding a drugs haul, the team are somewhat stumped to discover it to be full of body parts and the bodies of babies. With bent coppers involved, this is clearly a lucrative business of some description for those involved – whoever they may be…
I’m sensing a link – or do I just read too much crime fiction…?
You probably do read far too much crime fiction, yes! But of course there is a link…and with our two star-crossed lovers taking on the almighty power of the Catholic Church in Latin America, they will need all the luck they can get…
So do Veronica – and Argentina – make a good impression when it comes to a crimebusting heroine, and a compelling locus? Did the combination keep you turning pages ’til the wee small hours?
Yes, yes, and yes, emphatically! I do love discovering a new series – The Fragility Of Bodies and The Foreign Girls are, respectively, the first two novels featuring Veronica – and by this third novel she’s an exceptionally well-fleshed out character, with a strong past. She’s sexy, tough, ambitious, but also funny (there’s a highly amusing catfight with Dominico’s current squeeze!) and highly likeable. The supporting cast of exes, workmates, girlfriends and family – once one gets a grip of them all, which really doesn’t take long – showcase Olguin’s talent in creating a thoroughly enjoyable crime series, which is also unafraid of tackling controversial issues. Federico, too, is surrounded by his own groups of friends, colleagues etc. It’s an exceptionally well-established series, with plenty in the tank for future novels.
I’m finding myself enjoying translated fiction more and more; I always say it’s my way of travelling vicariously. But I’ve also learnt that, regardless of the country, crime creates the same devastation wherever your book is set. However, having Veronica and Federico on your side would most certainly be a bonus. If you enjoy ScandiNoir, or any fiction from other countries, I definitely don’t think you’d be disappointed if you sought them out.
An absolute corker of a novel which ticks every box when it comes to crime fiction – as good as it gets!
With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation, and to Bitter Lemon Press for the ARC. This has not influenced my opinion in any way, and this is an honest review.
Author Sergio Olguin
Look back at the blog tour, and see what some of the fantastic bloggers made of the book!
BLURB: A new crime investigation by fearless Buenos Aires journalist Veronica Rosenthal. Haunted by nightmares of her past, Verónica is soon involved in a new investigation. Darío, the sole survivor of a car accident that supposedly killed all of his family, is convinced that his wife and child have in fact survived and that his wife has abducted their child. Then a truck searched in the port of Buenos Aires on suspicion of drug trafficking, is revealed to be transporting human body parts. These seemingly separate incidents prove to be linked in a shadowy web of complicity involving political and religious authorities.