Thanks to Quercus Books and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a really big fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I always feel very privileged to get to read advance copies of her books before release. I like how she doesn’t pigeonhole herself into certain genres and readers can always be sure that they are going to get to read something a little different. Speaking purely selfishly I also like how prolific she is.
Going by the synopsis alone I’m not sure this is a book I would naturally pick up so I can’t comment as to how representative it is of the noir genre. What always strikes me about Moreno-Garcia’s writing is that she really knows her characters and there is always a really coherent sense of place and time and this holds true for this book too.
The book is set in Mexico City in the 1970s during the student movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Full disclosure, this is something I know absolutely nothing about, but the incorporation of real historical events was accomplished successfully.
The novel is told from two different points of view, that of Maite, a bored and unfulfilled secretary in her early 30s with a love for Mexican romance comics. Again, this is not something I am familiar with but having had a quick google they look like a lot of fun. Maite gets drawn into the mysterious disappearance of her neighbour and finds herself way out of her depth.
The second point of view is that of Elvis, a gangster in his early twenties keen to make his mark on the criminal underworld.
It is a testament to Moreno-Garcia’s skill as an author that I didn’t like either of the two point of view characters yet still cared enough about them to see their stories through to the end.
There was a definite slump in the middle for me where I started to feel my interest waning, Elvis’ chapters in particular struggled to maintain my interest. Perhaps it’s because I don’t find gangster/gang member narratives particularly compelling and the main plot driver of the story, the missing neighbour, didn’t really grab me either. I didn’t really care whether she was found or not. I felt like the story could have benefited from a little romance too, for me it was just missing that frisson of romantic tension that would have made it a bit more enjoyable of a read.