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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 15 July 2019

"The Mongolian Conspiracy" by Rafael Bernal

Mexican noir from the 1960s. Filiberto Garcia, a hitman working for the Mexico City police, is tasked to work with an FBI agent and a Soviet agent to untangle a plot to kill the visiting US President. As the body count mounts, Garcia becomes puzzled by inconsistencies. At the same time he begins to develop a relationship with Marta. But is she a plant?

This is Raymond Chandler transplanted south of the border and set during the height of the cold war.

One of the intriguing aspects of this novel's style is the way that the narration changes. It is always narrated from the point of view of Garcia but sometimes we are in his head as he thinks (whe he refers to himself as I or me) and sometimes we are outside him watching him act (in which case he refers to himself in the third person as Garcia). This can change between paragraphs and lends a disorienting quality to the text. I am not sure if it is meant to suggest a dissociative personality. Garcia is a killer. But he is a killer who is kept awake at night by the memories of the people he has killed.

There are a great many quotes about death in the text:
  • You've got to respect the dead. I make them dead and that's why I respect them.” (C 2)
  • The widow of that dead guy ... she stuck with me for a long time. The dead guy, too. Some dead people become very sticky, like syrup.” (C 2)
  • We are death’s doormen,but we always remain outside.” (C 4)
  • Killing someone is sending them off to be by themselves, to be alone.” (C 6)
Other great quotes include:
Nobody can live off memories, only people who haven't done anything.” (C 2)
This gringo’s got the muscles of a boxer and the face of a sonofabitch. Not a bad combination in a man who knows his trade, and it looks like this one does.” (C 3)
That business of smiling all the time, it must be the latest fad.” (C 3)
A do-it-yourself widow or you lent a hand?” (C 3)
Under her robe, there was only Annabella, lots of Annabella.” (C 3)
And she all people should have died in bed because when she was alive, that's what she used most.” (C 4)
When he entered the apartment, the dawn was spreading gray shadows everywhere, like large stains of mildew in an abandoned house.” (C 5)
If he doesn't like how I’m making my bricks, why doesn't he get in there and mix the clay?” (C 5)
Don't look at the price tag; if you like it, just buy it, don't look at the price. That's what we all do in life. We don't see what things cost.” (C 5)
Shops were opening, the trash of the night was being taken away.” (C 5)
Luciano Manrique’s exemplary life is an open book to me ... a somewhat pornographic book, like those novels they write these days, the ones they say are new art and very highbrow.” (C 5)
There’s one thing you learn from military men: being right isn’t worth shit, what matters is having buddies.” (C 5)

He also quotes a lovely little poem:
If as a kid I went to school
And was a soldier when I grew,
If as a husband she gave me horns
And then I died as was my due,
What do I owe the sun
For having warmed my bones?” (C 4)

A classic example of the genre. July 2019; 213 pages

Also set in Mexico:

My wonderful wife bought me a subscription to Books and Beer; each month I receive a crime book and some cans of beer. The other titles I have received so far are:
  • Most Wanted by Robert Craik: a fast-paced thriller set in California
  • The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins: a whodunnit set in the English Peak District
  • Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth: a stunning tale of crime and revenge, of temptation and sin, of evil and redemption set in 1880s Queensland and as gritty as only the Australian Outback can get.
  • Snap by Belinda Bauer: a brilliant story about a young lad who, having become a burglar in order to survive, discovers his mother's killer.
  • Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic: a murder mystery set in Australia in which the PI is deaf
  • The Closer I get by Paul Burston

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