Rafael Bernal (1915 – 1972)

rafaelbernalRafael Bernal, born in 1915 in Mexico City, doesn’t come to mind when one thinks of great detective novelists of the 1960s. There is little about him on the Internet in English, and none of his other novels, plays, story collections or histories have been translated. Although he wrote dozens of books, his 1969 novel, The Mongolian Conspiracy, is considered his masterwork. Bernal was a renaissance man: He earned his doctorate in literature from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and his bachelor’s degree at Loyola in Montreal, in addition to studying at the Colegio Francés de San Borja in Peru and at the Instituto de Ciencias y Letras in Mexico City. Although he was a successful novelist and journalist for TV, radio and film, he ultimately became a Mexican diplomat after years of extensive travel left him with a taste for the jet-set lifestyle. (The cities and countries he traveled to as a tourist or served in as a diplomat reads like a veritable list of exotic locales in Graham Greene novels: Europe, Central America, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, the U.S., Canada, Honduras, Peru, the Philippines, Japan and Switzerland, where he died while serving his country. He was buried in Geneva. Twenty years after his death his remains returned to Mexico. (Source: Los Angeles Times and El Mundo)

New Directions publicity page

His Name was Death (New Directions Publishing Corporation, Publication date: 11/02/2021)

Rafael Bernal Book Series in Order

Selected bibliography: Un muerto en la tumba (1946); Tres novelas policíacas [A collection of three short stories: El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, and “El heroico Don Serafín”] (1946); Su nombre era muerte (1947) [English translation: His Name Was Death]; El complot mongol (1969) [English translation: The Mongolian Conspiracy]; and Antología Policíaca (2015) [A selectiion of short stories including: El extraño caso de Aloysius Hands”, “De muerte natural”, El heroico Don Serafín”, “Un muerto en la tumba”, “La muerte poética”, “La muerte madrugadora”, y “La declaración”].