The Neruda Case is the first of Roberto Ampuero’s novels to be published in English — but hopefully not the last in a series that has already captured great international attention. In this book, detective Cayetano Brule remembers his first case and distinguished first client, Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. Here’s a quick excerpt from my review of the book in the Washington Post:
In the course of his investigation, Cayetano talks with journalists, poets, schoolteachers, government officials and even a literary scholar; battles bureaucracy and political suspicions; is shadowed by Chilean spies and interrogated by East German Stasi; and finds himself inquiring into his client’s character and motivations. In the process, Cayetano travels to Mexico, Cuba, East Germany and Bolivia and becomes increasingly embroiled in Chile’s own political turmoil: economic collapse, food shortages, labor strikes and bursts of violence, all part of the final days of Salvador Allende’s presidency and the brutal beginnings of Augusto Pinochet’s long dictatorship.
But while Cayetano’s quest provides the novel’s narrative thrust, the book ultimately seems more a meditation on Neruda and Chile and even detective fiction itself….
For more, check out the full review here. — Art Taylor