October 2, 2011

What's an Honest Cop to Do?

What can an honest cop do when nearly the whole system is corrupt? Argentine police superintendent Venancio "Perro" Lascano is doing his best to bring criminals to justice, but gets gunned down by corrupt fellow officers as a result.

While he's recuperating, Lascano is offered a substantial reward to find Miranda the Mole--a notorious bank robber who was just released from prison and is suspected of being involved in a recent heist. Since Lascano is presumed dead by most of the police force and is no longer receiving a paycheck, he agrees to hunt for Miranda. He especially needs the money because his lover, Eva, has disappeared and he hopes to track her down--if she's still alive. The Mole proves slippery though, and Lascano's reflexes and morals are both tested as he pursues him.

Adding to Lascano's problems, the men who wanted him dead still want him dead. But the new police chief and an idealistic young prosecutor are on his side, provided that Lascano is willing to testify against one of the generals who "disappeared" people during the Argentine junta's Dirty War.

Sweet Money is told in a stream-of-consciousness style; there are no quotation marks and all dialogue is in unbroken, italicized paragraphs. This makes for slightly difficult reading at first, but once comfortable with the style, the reader is placed smack into the paranoid world of 1980s Buenos Aires. Ernesto Mallo has managed to bring violent, corrupt Argentina vividly to life in this second Inspector Lascano mystery.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Um...probably not. Unless your grandma doesn't mind some cussing and torture. And questionable prison "relations".

I'm so glad I did not live in Argentina in the 1980s. This is the third book I've read that's set in Argentina around that era, and they're all scary! How about you? Have you read any Argentinian books?

Just so you know: this review originally appeared in the September 23rd edition of Shelf Awareness for Readers. Also, the book image and title are Amazon affiliate links.