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Mallo, Ernesto - 'Sweet Money' (translated by Katherine Silver)
Paperback: 223 pages (June 2011) Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press ISBN: 1904738737

SWEET MONEY is the second part of the Superintendent Lascano trilogy and follows on a few years after NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK. Times have changed in Argentina with a new and democratic leader, Alfonsin, and a lessening of power for the military, many of whom are now trying to avoid prosecution for murder and other charges. Though it seems the police force is as corrupt as before.

Lascano finds himself injured, broke, jobless and homeless at the beginning of SWEET MONEY. He cannot go back to the police as his would-be murderers would finish the job and his new love has fled the country and he has no funds to follow her. This leads to him taking a job to track down a bank robber, Miranda the Mole, a non-violent thief known to Lascano who has robbed a bank of a million dollars. In addition, Lascano is approached by the idealistic, young prosecutor Pereyra, who had a small role in the previous book, who wants Lascano's help in nailing Lascano's nemesis, General Giribaldi, also from the previous book.

The stories of these four characters, Lascano, Mole, Pereya and Giribaldi, overlap, run parallel and intertwine through SWEET MONEY. Old scores are settled and favours returned leading to a bitter-sweet ending, though one not quite as dramatic as in NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK.

I enjoyed this second dose of Argentinian noir very much and I wonder where Lascano's story's going to go from here. Lascano is an honourable man, intelligent but not infallible and Mole, though a criminal has his own code and is loyal to his friends. Buenos Aires is vividly portrayed as a seething, turbulent and oppressive city which adds to the gritty nature of the novel.

SWEET MONEY can be read on its own, but I'd recommend starting with the earlier book to get a greater appreciation of the changes in the Lascano's life and country. I look forward to the final part of the trilogy.

Karen Meek, England
February 2012

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

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

last updated 26/02/2012 09:17