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Orsi, Guillermo - Holy City (translated by Nick Caistor)
Hardback: 320 pages (Mar. 2012) Publisher: MacLehose Press ISBN: 0857050621

This absolute belter of a book is a definite must-read for 2012. It was the winner of the 2010 Dashiell Hammett Prize in its original Spanish and is thoroughly entertaining. It is superbly translated by Nick Caistor and reads extremely well.

The book does start a bit slowly, simply because it takes a while to be introduced to all the characters and what is going on, but it is well-worth hanging in there, as you will be richly rewarded. One of the book's most interesting aspects is that your opinion about the characters changes constantly. One minute you think that someone is definitely up to no good, then something happens and you decide they are one of the good guys but the next minute you are not sure which side they are on! The plot keeps you on your toes and guessing right to the very end.

Set in Buenos Aires, a luxury passenger liner runs aground on the banks of the river, and is in need of repair. The passengers, mostly extremely wealthy people, disembark and take refuge in local hotels, eager to explore the city during this unexpected change to their schedule. One by one the wealthiest of the passengers start disappearing. Somebody has kidnapped them and the ransom demands are astronomical. Strangely, the police and politicians want the kidnappings to remain off the news radar, in order to prevent scandal, and moves are made to rescue the passengers before it is too late.

Running parallel with this plot, but closely intertwined with it, is a separate one concerning Anna Torrente, aka Miss Bolivia, and her relationship with do-gooder lawyer Veronica Berutti; a stunning, twice-widowed woman in her early 40s who tries to do her best for her friends by sometimes gets the feeling she is being taken for granted. There is also the matter of the headless bodies that appear in Miss Bolivia's wake, along with the mysterious Jaguar, who must be identified and caught at all costs….

Very highly recommended

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
July 2012

Amanda blogs at
Old Dogs and New Tricks.

More crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 29/07/2012 09:48