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Colombian novelist Franco’s third book but first to appear here is a kind of South American Scarface, about the rise and fall of a poor girl who becomes a player in the Medellín mob wars.

Colombia in the 1980s was one big gang fight, not even easy to sort out the cops from the gangsters. Our narrator Antonio, who came from the sheltered preserves of the Colombian upper class, saw the change right away: Suddenly the poor (some of them, at least) had more money than the rich—who lost no time trying to get into the game. Antonio and his friend Emilio (another trust-funder) soon found themselves partying at Medellín discos with kids from the slums who threw around more drug money (and drugs) in the course of an evening than their families made in a year. That was how they met Rosario (“Scissors”) Tijeras, a tough beauty whose brother Johnefe was a rising figure in the mob. How tough? When Rosario was raped as a teenager, she hunted her attacker down and castrated him. It gave her a nickname and a standard m.o., and soon she was one of the most feared hit-women in Colombia. But she managed to fall in love with Emilio all the same, despite the differences in their backgrounds and the opposition of Emilio’s family and of her brother’s partner Ferney (whom she threw over for Emilio). As Antonio begins the story, Rosario has just been shot and lies in the hospital dying, so there’s no illusion about a happy ending. What we get instead is a succession of vignettes from the life of a strangely passionate cold-hearted killer who managed to inspire love as well as fear in those unlucky enough to get too close to her.

Oddly flat: an intense, raw portrait of l'amour fou just slightly too deadpan to be taken seriously.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2004
ISBN: 1-58322-612-5
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Seven Stories
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2003


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