Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco and Lucy Greaves (translator)
|Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco and Lucy Greaves (translator)|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: More for the genre fan, this look at unusual events in 1950s Buenos Aires has exoticism in bounds.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: November 2016|
|Publisher: Pushkin Vertigo|
In a strange time, in the years after World War Two, Buenos Aires is a strange city – peopled by her native residents, and many who fled the European theatre of war. And in a building that houses some of the more strange examples of those people on six levels of large apartments, something strange happens – one of them struggles home the worse for drink late one night and finds the lift descend to fetch him to his door, but carrying a blonde woman's corpse. A resident doctor soon turns up too, and the pair kicks into action the police investigation into her presence, which soon seems to point to suicide. This not being in a genre called suicide mystery, however, we know differently – but will certainly have to wait to piece the whole story together.
And by the time that happens, some other strange things will have happened – some of them brilliant and compelling, others, unfortunately, less so. I felt it imperative to mention the strangeness of things here, as I found it the overlying feature. It might be a problem with the translation, but I didn't feel as if I was getting everything out of all the people, and quite a few scenes caused me to reread. The book is contrasting – at one regard it's definitely in line with those mysteries featuring a small, insular band of suspects with one outsider policeman to solve everything, but at the other it's not always playing ball with what we'd expect. The discovery of keys is relevant, but we never learn til the end where it was made; people just have the sense of being off; and our policeman certainly doesn't fit into the clever-but-flawed character pattern we now know so well.
In fact, he is very light on character, and I found too much effort had been put in making the suspects quite so bizarre that that became just one element that was at fault. Here's an immigrant brother and sister couple, where he is a complete tyrant to her. Here's a family where the man is housebound with illness, with a dutiful stepwife, and a lovely daughter who is so utterly wilful in breaking with her father's wishes and stopping out all night. Here's the womanising drinker who finds the corpse in the first place – but there he goes, quite unused (to the extent that a line about him wondering when he'd be told why his presence somewhere was needed becomes an arch in-joke).
So the writing thrusts the peculiar people at us – and struggles with the more normal-seeming characters. But it also manages to dump peculiar events on everyone concerned, which is ultimately why this book is worth investigating. It's not the best by far from this young imprint, but it does have more than the specialist interest provided by it being the debut novel of a woman dubbed the Argentine Agatha Christie. I felt I certainly had to work to get to the end – if the page count was any longer, and if even more than is already here was packed in, I would have been struggling. It's a pity for me that that awkwardness will be what I take from this read the most, but at the core of it is a classical murder mystery, and one that does unusual things and presents them in unexpected ways.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You could well enjoy The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner for the vintage thrills it possesses – we did.
You can read more book reviews or buy Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco and Lucy Greaves (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco and Lucy Greaves (translator) at Amazon.com.
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