In the late 1860s, Paraguay was devastated by an ill-conceived war that had the landlocked nation battling three of its neighbors. With corrupt leaders at the top, most notably dictator Francisco Solano López and his greedy Irish mistress, Eliza Lynch, the country is adrift. Village priest Padre Gregorio has a big problem when one of the dictator's local henchmen, Ricardo Yotté, is killed and his body is left at the church. Unbeknownst to most of the villagers, Yotté was harboring a secret stash of treasure for Lynch. Since the local government officials are corrupt, the villagers band together to figure out who wanted Yotté dead. A key family in the village, the Leóns, fear being blamed, especially the father, Salvador, for he has secrets of his own. So does his beautiful daughter who has been surreptitiously nursing a wounded Brazilian soldier back to health in the jungle. VERDICT Alfieri's (City of Silver) luscious historical stand-alone set in remote Paraguay beautifully evokes a crushingly painful chapter in that country's history. In the wake of the book's leisurely pace, the ending feels a bit rushed, but justice is meted out creatively in this original closed-room drama. [Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Flint's third mystery featuring Inspector Singh of the Singapore Police (after 2011's A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul) works better as a portrayal of a world largely unknown to Western audiences than a whodunit. As Singh and his wife prepare for a visit from an eligible bachelor relative of hers, Jagdesh Singh, from India, the policeman's called away on a high-profile murder case. Mark Thompson, a senior partner at the very firm that employs Jagdesh, has been bludgeoned to death in his office. The many suspects at the firm have a variety of secrets that they each seek to keep hidden, ranging from substance abuse to sexual identity. Any one of them could've killed Thompson to preserve his or her secret. Singh's politically sensitive boss limits his ability to follow the evidence. The police procedure proceeds along routine lines until the less than surprising revelation of the killer's identity. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLCReview by Publishers Weekly Reviews
The destruction of Paraguay in the 1860s by its three warring neighbors takes center stage in Alfieri's second South American historical (after 2009's City of Silver). Most people in the village of Santa Caterina, a microcosm of the country's feudal system, live in poverty and near starvation, while a few mostly corrupt members of the upper class enjoy ample food and other privileges. When Ricardo Yotté, "the scion of a noble family," is found dead in Santa Caterina's church, several villagers, including Padre Gregorio Perez (who urges women to conceive outside of marriage to replenish the population), decide they must solve the murder before Commandante Luis Menenez, the local governor, accuses an innocent. Meanwhile, Eliza Lynch, the beautiful foreign mistress of the dictator, Francisco Solana López, will stop at nothing to retrieve the fortune she entrusted to Yotté. Alfieri's vivid depiction of war-ravaged Paraguay more than makes up for the relatively weak mystery plot. Agent: Adrienne Rosado, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
When a powerful ally of Dictator Lâopez is found murdered in war-torn Paraguay, Father Gregorio enlists the aid of a fearful band of villagers to trace the activities of the victim's ruthless consort.Review by Publisher Summary 2
When a powerful ally of Dictator López is found murdered in war-torn Paraguay, Father Gregorio enlists the aid of a fearful band of villagers to trace the activities of the victim's ruthless consort, who would recover a fortune in gold. 10,000 first printing.Review by Publisher Summary 3
From the author of City of Silver, a beautifully rich and puzzling historical mystery set in Paraguay, 1868A war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay has devastated Paraguay. Ninety percent of the males between the ages of eight and eighty have died in the conflict and food is scarce. In the small village of Santa Caterina, Padre Gregorio advises the women of his congregation to abandon the laws of the church and get pregnant by what men are available. As he leaves the pulpit, he discovers the murdered body of Ricardo Yotté, one of the most powerful men in the country, at the bottom of the belfry.There are many suspects: Eliza Lynch, a former Parisian courtesan who is now the consort of the brutal dictator, Francisco Solano López, and who entrusted to Yotté the country's treasury of gold and jewels; López himself, who may have suspected his ally Yotté of carrying on an affair with the beautiful Eliza; Comandante Luis Menenez, local representative of the dictator, who competed with Yotté for López's favor, and a wounded Brazilian soldier who has secretly taken up with one of the village girls.Lynch is desperate to recover the missing gold, and the comandante is desperate to prove his usefulness to López. To avoid having an innocent person dragged off to torture and death, a band of villagers undertake to solve the crime, including Padre Gregorio, the village midwife, her crippled husband returned from combat, their spirited daughter, and a war widow. Each carries secrets they seek to protect from the others, while they pursue their quest for the truth. Lyrical, complex, and meticulously researched, Annamaria Alfieri's Invisible Country is an ingenious cross between Isabel Allende and Agatha Christie.