2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet: D is for Diez

Rolando Aurelio Díez Suárez, aka Rolo Díez, (Junín, 1940) came late to writing. While a student, he joined an armed revolutionary group resisting the military dictatorship in Argentina. He was captured and, after two years in prison, finally freed in 1977. He took refuge in Europe and lived hand to mouth, surviving on odd jobs. Rolo Diez found some stability and an appetite for writing when he settled in Mexico in the early 80s. His novels have been published in Spain, France, England and Germany. Twice, in 1995 and 2004, he was awarded the Hammett Prize during the Semana Negra Crime Festival in Gijon, and was the first Prize Umbriel winner in 2003. His Wikipedia page is in Italian and he is best known in France than in Spanish speaking countries. Some of his books have been translated and published in France, but have not been published in Spanish yet. Most of his books are considered crime fiction.

Los compañeros (La Plata, 1987) (The Companions). First narrative autobiographical piece by Rolo Diez in which he talks openly about his political involvement. The Argentinian author narrates his life-changig personal experience during the military coup in that country and his subsequent exile. (AMV Agencia Literaria)


Paso del tigre (Editorial Z, 1991) (The Tiger´s Walk). Superintendent Aguirre is the link between the two historical periods that make the background to this crime novel on police corruption and Argentina’s disappeared children. In the 70s Aguirre is a revolutionary infiltrated into the police and responsible for the death of an urban guerrilla during a police operation. In the 80s he is caught up in a series of murky events related to police schemes and conspiracies. The second part of the book concentrates on Samuel, a man from the province of Buenos Aires and from a Jewish family settled in Mexico. He will reveal the dark side of living in those countries. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

Una baldosa en el valle de la muerte (Universidad de Guadalajara, 1992) (A Tile in the Valley of Death). Three Uruguayans and an Argentine, former guerrilla fighters, try to make a living in Mexico selling encyclopaedias until they find out about an illegal handing over of money meant to free a criminal. The South Americans manage to steal the money but one of them betrays his partners running off with the loot. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

Mato y voy/ Gatos de azotea (Ediciones B. 1992) (I Kill and Go/ Roof Cats). The first story, set in Mexico, shows another side of the tourist paradise through Carlos Hernández, who belongs to the police elite and who practises blackmail, trafficking of counterfeit dollars and protects thieves. In the second story a couple of teenagers of the provinces establishes on the roof of a poor neighbourhood of Mexico DF trying to improve their life. An old Spanish anarchistic turns into their protector, especially after the owner of the building murders the girl. After long ponderings both men decide to put into practice what they suppose will be the worst punishment for the wicked one: burning his Mercedes Benz. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

Tequila Blue (Original title Mato y voy, 1992) has been published in English by Bitter Lemon Press. It’s not easy being a cop in Mexico City. Meet Carlos Hernandez, Carlito to his women. He’s a police detective with a complicated life: a wife, a mistress, children by both, and a pay-check that never seems to arrive. This being Mexico, he resorts to pimping, blackmail, money laundering and arms dealing to finance his police activity. The money for justice must be found somewhere. The corpse in the hotel room is that of a gringo with a weakness for blue movies. Carlito’s maverick investigation leads him into a labyrinth of gang wars, assassinated prostitutes, and corrupt politicians. (Bitter Lemon Press)

Luna de escarlata (Roca, Mexico 1994) (Scarlet Moon). This is the story of the various destinies of Scarlett Medina Leon. She was brought up by her mother with the idea of making her into a princess. However, in 30 years she has not met her prince charming. Her father, Juan Secondino Medina, an unsuccessful baker, abandoned her mother for a young woman with whom he is still unable to find happiness. Scarlett is divorced from Richard, a lawyer. (AMV Agencia Literaria). 1995 Dashiell Hammett Award winner.

Vladimir Ilich contra los uniformados (Ikusager, 1997) (Vladimir Ilich Against the Uniformed). In Buenos Aires, during the dictatorship, when the army was at the point of winning the dirty war, a retired man, a manic-depressive adolescent, an old anarchist and a 30-year-old bank employee plan a bank robbery to turn failure into success. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

Gambito de dama y El aguantadero (Planeta, Mexico, 1998) (Queen’s Gambit and The Hideout). This book is really two novels with different settings and ages: a boy in a village on the Argentinian Pampa who as an adult searches for his roots in a neighbourhood of Mexico City: love seen through the eyes of a young teenager or a helpless cynic. Rich, warm humour and adventure, a sense of nostalgia and quest… These are some of the topics of these works. And behind them, the clear look of the author, who takes us into and shows us the eternal labyrinths of the human condition. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

Mira con los ojos bien abiertos (Gallimard, 2001) (Look With Eyes Wide Open). In domino veritas, published in French by Gallimard Série Noire, France. What relationship can exist between four domino players who persuade the owner of a wine cellar for lending them his establishment during a weekend and an unfortunate thug seeking money and love?
The answer to this question is the one that Rolo Diez weaves in a novel that is both serious and humorous, providing a portrait of a Mexico plunged into economic decline. (Gallimard)

La vida que me doy (Tusquets, 2001) (The Life I Give to Myself). Carlos Hernandez, the best cop in RO (Relaciones Operativas) receives a “delicate assignment” from his boss, an euphemisms for an illegal mission. He has to bring to Tijuana the corpse of Carmina, a young woman who has died of a drug mixture ingested during a party in Mexico City. For some strange reason his boss wants to hide this fact and thus provide a different version, that the girl had died in Tijuana, her hometown. This mission, for the best cop, is a relatively easy favour. However, things start to get complicated when a certain Pancho Cañizares comes into play and he wants to steal Carmina’s body. Why would he want to steal Carmina’s body?  This is the first puzzle to be solved by Carlos Hernandez. When everything is cleared up and Hernandez is finally ready to enjoy the life he likes, another case arises, this time it is a truly delicate one, the murderer of the claw, a serial killer whose victims are women and homosexuals. The famous police, fearing for the life of his wife Lourdes, and his lover Gloria, makes a big mistake during his investigation and, furthermore, gets involved in a plot that never seems to end, a dizzying labyrinth built by drug traffickers and police. To say the truth, the life he yields to himself is not as easy as he would have wanted because, in addition to cases to be solved, Hernandez pretends to love his two women alike. The Life I Give to Myself, written with exquisite humour and wit, is more than a detective novel is a mirror reflecting the nature of an entire country. (Tusquets). National Novel Award and José Rubén Romero Award.

Papel picado (Umbriel, 2003) (Perforated Paper). Mariana and the Black leave their house. Traveling by America and Europe they learn the different faces of exile. Their reunion in Mexico with their ‘preferred’ enemy, the paramilitary Cesare D’Amato, name of war Puma, more specifically “Lombroso” reinstall them in those streets where adventure and death make corner. With other faces and other uniforms, the battles between different world conceptions return. (Editorial Umbriel) Winner of the I Umbriel Semana Negra Award, 2003 and the Dashiell Hammett Award, 2004.

Matamujeres (Fayard, 2007) (Women Killer). Published in France as Eclipse de lune. The biggest serial killer in history has killed 400 women in Ciudad Juárez. Then there is a case in central Mexico that stains its streets with blood. Carlos Hernández, a policeman who loves all beautiful women and tries to better his meagre income by sucking the powerful who “deserve it”, solves it. Women Killer” is a thriller and a picaresque novel, full of intrigues and adventures; the novel uncovers corruption in Mexico and is an enthralling and entertaining argument against impunity. (AMV Agencia Literaria) Fayard.

Dos mil y una noches (Ediciones B, 2009) (Two Thousand and One Nights). A Mexican of Arab origin returns to Mexico from New York on the 11th of September 2001. He is included in the FBI’s lists and so his life changes completely. The intelligence and security services are obsessed and throw him into a rollercoaster of a story, both appalling and delirious. (AMV Agencia Literaria)

El mejor y el peor de los tiempos. Como destruyeron al PRT- ERP (Nuestra américa, 2010) (The Best and the Worst of Times. How the PRT- ERP Party Was Destroyed). This book is a bone-chilling testimony to the horror that was the secret detention camp of ‘El Campito’, in Argentina. The voice that tells us the story of this torture centre and concentration camp operated by the military is that of hunter Cacho Scarpati, who will tell us of the tragic events that led to the destruction of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores-Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo party (PRT-ERP) (the Workers’ Revolutionary Party-People’s Revolutionary Army party) in May 1977. This is the true story of the Argentinians, a story that rises up against the voices and the wall of hypocrisy and opportunism and tells us of the best of times, of the worst of times.

The Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 is a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week. Click HERE to visit the contribution of other participants.

Conversation between Ana Zendrera editor and Argentine writer based in Mexico Rolo Diez, following the publication of “Scarlet Moon”, published in Spain by Sirpus, winner of the Hammett Prize. (in Spanish)
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