I recently finished reading BLOOD TANGO, the newest mystery release from Annamaria Alfieri.*
Short review: Highly Recommended. One of the best and sharpest mysteries I’ve read in several years.
It’s not an easy thing to write a novel which includes Eva Duarte. “Evita” entered the popular culture decades ago through the musical which bears her name, and the historical record alternately lionizes and vilifies the woman who loved and married Argentinian President Juan Perón. Even those of us who have read her history often find her difficult to understand … and the thought of trying to fictionalize her in any realistic way is a Herculean task at best.
Yet Alfieri not only does it, she does it brilliantly.
The rest of the novel’s characters have similar depth and complexity. Investigator Roberto Leary must tread the dangerous waters of the Argentine police department on the eve of Perón’s ascension to power, attempting to solve a mysterious murder that no one wants him to solve. Couturier Claudia struggles with grief and guilt when her assistant, a girl with the fortune (or possibly misfortune) to look like Perón’s mistress Eva Duarte, is brutally murdered – an ironic twist because Claudia hired the girl to save her from abuse. And those are merely two examples – Alfieri’s cast is masterfully drawn and painted with a depth that makes each character spring from the page.
The mystery itself is engaging, complex, and features an interesting twist: the investigators cannot tell if the girl – who was using the dressmaker’s shop to hide from enemies of her own – was murdered because she resembled Evita or because of her own, complicated past.
Alfieri’s novel features a tightly-drawn plot, engaging narrative, intriguing characters and a “read it all in one sitting” pace that grabs hold on page 1 and doesn’t let go until the surprising–and satisfying–conclusion.
This is a dance you don’t want to miss.
My rating: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
*Disclosure: Annamaria Alfieri and I are both edited by Toni Kirkpatrick at Minotaur Books. That fact did not impact or prejudice this review in any way.