La aguja en el pajar /Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo (y/and 3)

La Aguja en el Pajar127 En La aguja en el pajar, Ernesto Mallo utiliza el género policial, más específicamente un procedimiento policial, para dar cuenta de algunas de las atrocidades cometidas durante la “Guerra Sucia“, un período de violencia patrocinada por el Estado en Argentina. Lo que es notable y vale la pena destacar es su capacidad para evitar escribir un libro sesgado, ya que él era miembro de un movimiento revolucionario durante esos años. En menos de 200 páginas Mallo nos ofrece una historia compleja e intensa al mismo tiempo que nos proporciona el retrato de una época.

Pero Mallo es también un excelente narrador, y como alguien ha dicho ya Mallo no sólo sabe muy bien sobre lo que está hablando, pero sobre todo lo que sabe es cómo narrarlo. El libro está muy bien escrito y sus diálogos tienen una estructura original y muy interesante. El libro ha sido inteligentemente trazado y está contado desde puntos de vista diferentes, un interesante dispositivo que ayuda a mantener la atención del lector. Hacia el final del libro el tamaño de los capítulos se van reduciendo gradualmente proporcionando así un buen ritmo. Como ha señalado acertadamente Maxine en Petrona es también una historia de amor. Hágase un favor y léalo, no se arrepentirá, es un libro excelente.

La segunda entrega de la serie Lascano se llama Delincuente Argentino y Mallo está escribiendo actualmente la tercera de la serie.

Needle in a Haystack In Needle in a Haystack Ernesto Mallo uses the crime fiction genre, more specifically a police procedural, to account for some of the atrocities committed during the ‘Dirty War’, a period of state-sponsored violence in Argentina. What is remarkable and it is worthwhile to highlight is his ability to avoid writing a biased book, since he was a member of a revolutionary movement during those years. In less than 200 pages Mallo offers a complex and intense story providing, at the same time, the portrait of an era.

But Mallo is also an excellent storyteller, and as someone has already stated Mallo knows very well what he is talking about but above all he knows how to narrate. The book is beautifully written and its dialogues have an original and very interesting structure.  The book is cleverly plotted and is told from different points of view, an interesting device that helps keep the reader’s attention. Towards the end of the book the chapters’ size are gradually reduced providing the right pace. As correctly observed by Maxine at Petrona it is also a love-story. Do yourself a favour and read it, you won’t regret it, this is a superb book.

The second novel of the Lascano series, “Delincuente Argentino“, is being translated into English. It means “Argentinian Criminal” but this might no be the English title. Mallo is currently writing his third book in the series.

Entrevista con Ernesto Mallo (In Spanish)

Author: Ernesto Mallo

Title: La aguja en el pajar (Needle in a Haystack)

Planeta Argentina, 2006

Number of pages: 216

ISBN: 978-950-49-1457-0

Bait by Nick Brownlee

Bait Apb.indd My third African book in Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge takes me to Kenya. Bait’s opening lines read: “As a boy, George Malawe had gutted thousands of fish for the white men who came to catch game off the cost of Mombasa. But, as he plunged the blade of his favourite teak-handled filleting knife into the soft underbelly and eased it upwards through the stomach wall with a smooth, practised sawing movement, it struck him that he had never before gutted a white man.”

Bait, a crime thriller, is Nick Brownlee’s debut novel. The main characters are Jake Moore a former London cop who is now running a game fishing business in Mombasa and Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma of the Coast Province CID. The plot opens with three seemingly unconnected events. A fishing-boat skipper and his bait-boy have been blown up in the water, a lowlife undesirable criminal has disappeared and a mangled body has been washed up on the beach at Bara Hoyo after a storm. Jouma with no one else in whom to trust seeks the assistance of Moore. But there are deadly implications for everyone concerned that go far beyond the borders of Africa.

The main characters are likeable and the description of daily life in Mombasa is very attractive and interesting. The story is fast paced, quite enjoyable and easy to read. But at the end it was all too predictable. Good guys are good, bad guys are bad and most characters are just stereotypes. But there is a sense of real Africa and of some of its real problems like corruption. Anyhow I would not mind to read the second book in the series. Potential readers should be aware that they may find some coarse Globus 2language and some unpleasant scenes.

Nick Brownlee is a former Fleet Street journalist who now runs his own freelance news agency. He is a member of the Crime Writer’s Association and the author of several non-fiction books, the latest being a history of the Tour de France. He lives in Cumbria with his wife and daughter. Bait is his debut novel  in a series featuring Moore and Jouma. The second one, Burn, was published in June 2009. The third one,  Machete, was released last July.

Nick Brownlee official website

Piatkus

Amazon.co.uk

Bait has been reviewed at The Bookbag

Author: Nick Brownlee

Title: Bait

Piatkus 2008

330 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7499-2884-1

La aguja en el pajar / Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo (2)

La Aguja en el Pajar127Primera frase: “Hay días en que el borde de la cama es un abismo de quinientos metros”.

Podemos leer en la propaganda de la contraportada: “Lascano, un comisario de policía trastornado por la reciente muerte de Marisa, su mujer, recibe un llamado: hay dos cadáveres cerca del Riachuelo. En el lugar del crimen descubre un tercer cuerpo que no tiene las características de los “fusilados” de la época. Amancio Pérez Lastra, un niño bien venido a menos, está abrumado por las exigencias de la bella y rápida Lara y sus muchas deudas, entre ellas, la de Biterman, un prestamista superviviente de Auschwitz que lo tiene acorralado. En un operativo, Lascano encuentra a Eva, una militante que está huyendo de la represión y que le resulta la viva imagen de Marisa. Se la lleva a su casa para protegerla, pero la semejanza no terminará en lo físico. Sobre el paisaje de la violencia política de los 70, policías, militares, jóvenes en la clandestinidad y miembros de la clase alta argentina componen una trama en la que el juego de los caracteres, la riqueza de las descripciones y los diálogos alcanzan una memorable potencia narrativa. Ernesto Mallo exhibe un dominio admirable en la mejor tradición del policial, mantiene el suspense de manera magistral en una historia compleja, ajustada al milímetro, que no da respiro al lector”.

Ernesto Mallo (La Plata, 1948), director de teatro, guionista, dramaturgo, traductor y periodista, comenzó su carrera como novelista con La aguja en el pajar (Planeta, 2006), finalista del Premio Clarín de Novela (2004) y ganadora del Memorial Silverio Cañada Premio (2007) en la Semana Negra de Gijón. Su segunda novela Delincuente Argentino (Planeta 2007) fue finalista del premio Hammett Dashiell 2008. Ernesto Mallo vive y trabaja en Buenos Aires.

En una próxima entrada voy a seguir escribiendo acerca de este libro. Mientras tanto, sólo quiero dejar constancia de que  La aguja en el pajar es un libro soberbio, uno de los tres mejores que he leído este año, hasta el momento. Y Ernesto Mallo está brillante en ésta su primera novela.

No quiero dejar de aprovechar la ocasión para agradecer a Glenn, Karen, Norman y Maxine, sus reseñas. Sin ellas quiza no hubiera leído este magnífico libro.

Página web de Ernesto Mallo

Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto MalloNeedle in a Haystack

Opening line: “Some days the side of the bed is like the edge of an enormous abyss”.

We can read in the blurb’s back cover: “Superintendent Lascano is a detective working under the shadow of military rule in Buenos Aires in the late 1970s. He is sent to investigate the discovery of two bodies but when he arrives at the roadside crime scene he finds three. Two are clearly the work of the junta’s death squads, and so should not be investigated by the police, but the other one seems different. Lascano follows the trail, leading the reader on a tour of a Buenos Aires poisoned to the core by the military regime.
Lascano must navigate gingerly among characters symbolic of an Argentina that has lost its way: Amancio, whose privileged upbringing makes him unable to deal with the collapse of his fortunes; Biterman, the miser, embittered beyond hope by his experiences in Nazi Germany; Eva the young radical, condemned to a life on the run, death or exile, but forced to take refuge with a cop; Giribaldi, the army major, quick to help old friends, but cruel and contemptuous of everyday civilians. Buenos Aires, corrupted by the military regime, is as important a character as any other.
Lascano must uphold the law among the people and turn a blind eye to the actions of the regime, trying to bring justice to an unjust society, where some crimes are for investigation, others are not. Of course, the crime he investigates in Needle in a Haystack turns out to be one of those he should not
”.

Ernesto Mallo (La Plata, 1948), theatre director, screenwriter, playwrighter, translator and journalist, began his career as a novelist with Needle in a Haystack (Planeta, 2006), the runner up of the Clarín de Novela Award (2004) and the winner of the Memorial Silverio Cañada Award (2007) at the Semana Negra de Gijón. His second novel Delincuente Argentino (Planeta 2007) was a shortlisted for the 2008 Dashiell Hammett Award. Ernesto Mallo lives and works in Buenos Aires.

In a next post I will keep writing about this book. Meanwhile, I just want to go on record that the Needle in a Haystack is a superb book, one of the best three that I’ve read this year so far. And Ernesto Mallo is brilliant in this, his debut novel.

I do wish to take this opportunity to thank Glenn, Karen, Norman and Maxine, for their reviews. Without them I might not have read this amazing book.

Needle in a Haystack has been reviewed by International Noir Fiction, Euro Crime, Crime Scraps, Petrona.

Bitter Lemon Press

Barnes & Noble

amazon.co.uk

Author: Ernesto Mallo

Title: La aguja en el pajar (Needle in a Haystack)

Planeta Argentina, 2006

Number of pages: 216

ISBN: 978-950-49-1457-0

Participate in the ACRC’s Agatha Christie Blog Tour September 1-30

acrc2_blogtour2010 I would like to encourage you all to participate in the ACRC’s Agatha Christie Blog Tour.

For details visit the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival Blog HERE.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Roger-Ackroyd-lo-res__jpg_235x600_q95In the small English village of King’s Abbot a wealthy widow, Mrs. Ferrars has died victim of an overdose of veronal.  Mrs. Ferrars’ husband died just over a year ago of acute gastritis, helped on by habitual overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. During her mourning period she was secretly engaged to Roger Ackroyd, a wealthy manufacturer. Soon after her death Roger Akroyd is found stabbed to death. Are these three deaths related? Fortunately a new and mysterious neighbour is in town, a short man with an egg-shaped head, partially covered with suspiciously black hair, two immense moustaches and a pair of watchful eyes. Hercules Poirot has retired from work and has moved to King’s Abbot to grow vegetable marrows. The novel is narrated by Dr. Sheppard the doctor of King’s Abbot. Dr. Sheppard plays Captain Hastings role as Poirot’s assistant. Hastings is now living in Argentina with his wife. The book ends with a then-unprecedented plot twist. Its innovative ending had a significant impact on the genre (Wikipedia). It is often considered one of Christie’s masterpieces and it was published in 1926.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a delightful reading. I consider it a ‘must read’ for anyone who is willing to access Agatha Christie novels for the first time. A wonderful and very ingenious book that no crime fiction aficionado should miss. I enjoyed it thoroughly. You can read it several times since it supports different readings even if you know the ending. ACBC

You can visit here the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival hosted by Kerrie. You can always participate and read at your own pace.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd  has been reviewed by Mysteries in Paradise, A Woman of Mystery.

See also The Official Agatha Christie website.