God knows why New York private eye Filomena Buscarsela (Red House, 2001, etc.) thinks it’s a good idea to take her prepubescent daughter Antonia to visit her family in Ecuador. Last time she was in her homeland, Filomena was known as Juanita Calle, a revolutionary lucky to escape after one shootout too many. And sure enough, after a week in Guayaquil, watching her aunt Yolita and uncle Lucho try to run a grocery store in the face of a weekly inflation rate approaching 100 percent, Filomena faces violence again—a shootout during her bus ride to visit her childhood priest, Padre Samuel Campos, in his church in La Chala. When Padre Samuel is slashed to death, Filomena wants to know if his murder was in retaliation for co-authoring a report condemning the government’s collaboration with paramilitary death squads. To solve the crime, she travels to La Trampa with two soldiers, Sergeant Musgoso and Corporal Pollilo, then joins forces with two reporters, Argentine Ruben Zimmerman and American Peter Connery. When Zimmerman is murdered, the police suspect Filomena, who flees into the Andes, where she confronts freezing temperatures, altitude sickness, political unrest, and pursuit by the police—as well as by the ghosts of her past.
When Filomena crosses the equator, Wishnia crosses the line from mystery to thriller, stuffing his latest way too full of incident and backstory. Readers have no more hope of unraveling the puzzle than Ecuadorians have of buying today’s rice at yesterday’s prices.