Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa, and translated by Edith Grossman, is an exquitisely written book.
The brief summary: In a desolate and hidden away Andean village, three men disappear. 2 civil guards are sent up there to investigate the disappearances.
Sounds normal enough, right? From the first page, you realize that this novel is not so cut and dry. There are multiple stories being told at once from multiple perspectives. This book is a challenge to those who cannot keep a storyline straight. The days are devoted to investigating the disappearances of the three men. During this investigation, you hear brutal stories of murder and politics of local residents and foreign tourists. The nights are devoted to Tomas, who spends each night talking about his love affair with the girlfriend (prostitute) of a mafia boss in Peru.
The violence is graphic, but mostly because you have an inkling that it isn’t just fiction that is taking place in this book. Peru’s government is volitile, and paranoid. All the characters in this book are paranoid and on their guard.
You’re a decent Civil Guard,” Dionisio asserted. “Everybody in camp says so. You never abuse your authority. There aren’t too many like you. Take it from somebody who knows the sierra like the palm of his hand. I’ve traveled every inch of it.”
“You mean the laborers think I’m okay? How would it be if they didn’t?” Lituma said mockingly. “So far, I haven’t made a single friend in camp.”
“The proof is that you and your adjutant are still alive,” Dioniso declared as casually as if he were saying that water is liquid or that its dark at night.
This book is not a quick read. There are many intricate areas that I had to reread, and pages I had to bookmark to refer back to for clarification. But it is a worthwhile read. I’m keeping this author on my To-Read list.