Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo and Katherine Silver
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|Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo and Katherine Silver|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: Argentina in the 1980s and corruption is rife. Good guy Lascano is drawn into a murky and violent web in Buenos Aires and his options are fading fast for a safe outcome in an atmosphere of dog eat dog.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 267||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press|
A man whose nickname is Mole (and it suits him just perfectly) is released from prison. He's described as your average Joe Public, your man in the street so normal in every way that no one would look twice at him. And that's the point. He's clever and resourceful enough to blend into any crowd and in any situation. Now that he's served his time behind bars, has he become a reformed man? Is he going to opt for a lawful way of life from now on? You'd perhaps think so, wouldn't you?
We soon get the background on Supt Lascano. He's known tragedy in his life and therefore I thought he came across as a little vulnerable. Not necessarily a good thing when he needs eyes in the back of his head in his line of work. Mallo uses a very effective technique early on in the book: dialogue is in italics. It's usually street-wise, clipped and to the point and often with an undercurrent of danger which can contrast well with the ongoing narrative. I loved it and wish that more writers would do this.
This story is essentially a gritty, urban tale involving dangerous men involved in dodgy activities with a devil-may-care-attitude about them. All rather attractive to the thriller lovers amongst us, I'm thinking. Lines such as As the orange sun, pierced by the thousands of eucalyptus leaves, plunges towards the horizon, Lascano's chest hurts, right where the pain of the ... mingles with that of longing. give the reader a sense of Mallo's style. As the reader follows the lives of the two central characters, Mole and Lascano, we learn that the ex-con Mole has a softer side. He's missed his family while inside and wants to make it up to them, big time. But can he? His wife is an attractive woman with plenty of admirers. Has she decided she's had enough of being on her own and moved on in her life?
Part of Mole's master plan involves taking a huge risk. He's certainly had plenty of time to think it all through. He's confident of his own abilities but has to involve a couple of mates - will they be up to the task? This will be the 'big' one, the one with big financial rewards to see Mole and his family through to a comfortable retirement. And throughout there's a palpable sense of danger and menace. Along with strong, gritty, no-nonsense language.
Given that this is a crime novel I glibly assumed that the title referred to stolen money of some description - a bank raid perhaps. It doesn't. Mallo's description is far, far better and also more subtle. I loved it. The plot thickens nicely along with some bloody violence. It's quite gruesome in parts but because it's an essential part of the story, I'm fine with it. While this is not normally the type of book I'd choose to read, it does what it says on the tin. It covers a corrupt era in Argentina's history and would probably tick a lot of boxes for those who enjoy a meaty, gritty read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Argentine Kidnapping by Bill Sheehy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo and Katherine Silver at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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