THE DANCER UPSTAIRS by Nicholas Shakespeare


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 In a sequel of sorts to his award-winning novel The Vision of Elena Silves (1990), Shakespeare again explores an explosive situation in Latin America (inspired by the Shining Path insurrection in Peru), deftly mingling love and suspense in a powerful, persuasive narrative. British journalist John Dyer, about to be reassigned when his paper opts to close its South American bureau, pursues one last, capstone interview with the elusive, all-powerful Calder¢n, the country's intelligence chief who serves as its de facto ruler. Failing in his mission, Dyer happens instead on an even more important prize: the policeman who for 12 years stalked the all- but-invisible rebel leader Ezequiel, capturing him without a shot and thereby becoming a national hero. The detective, Agust°n Rejas, has shunned the limelight, but a shared love of literature wears down his defenses, and he reluctantly begins to tell all to Dyer. Over the course of many nights Rejas retraces the full story of the capture and goes on to explain his life as well. Ever on the verge of poverty, with less and less in common with his status-conscious, lighter-skinned wife, Rejas stuck doggedly to the pursuit of his quarry, enduring long periods of frustration to accumulate clues, however slowly. Only when he met his daughter's ballet teacher, whose passion for the rituals of his native highlands stirs memories of his childhood, and found himself falling in love with her, did his world begin to seem less dreary--and then a captured videotape enabled him at last to locate Ezequiel. The capture was the culmination of his career, but it also, ironically, destroyed his new-found chance at happiness. Precisely, beautifully detailed, with a remarkable grasp of tension in a society not the writer's own: a tale both faithful to its time and utterly timeless.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-48513-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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