AN EASY THING by Paco Ignacio II Taibo


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First US publication for a prolific Mexican writer of crime-fiction: a moody, sketchy detective novel from the 1970's that's clearly (even self-consciously) modeled on Chandler and film noir, though local color and heavy political flavoring make it distinctively Mexican too. Hector Belascoaron Shayne--31, divorced, trained as an engineer--is that rare thing: a private-eye based in Mexico City. He's introspective and Angst-ridden, of course, especially now that his mother has just died: all the old family tensions and memories are stirred. But, in between broodings, Hector manages to take on three new cases simultaneously. Movie-star Marisa Fetter hires him to figure out why her 17-year-old daughter is acting so bizarrely. (Hector does so--after rescuing the girl from kidnappers and sleeping with her.) A steel company hires Hector to solve the murder of a personnel manager--while the company's employees stage a bitter, perhaps-unrelated strike. (Does the company want Hector to unfairly pin the murder on the strikers?) And finally, most wispily, Hector is compelled, for fuzzy reasons, to follow up a rumor that Emiliano Zapata, the revolutionary hero, did not die in 1919. . .and is in fact still alive! The revelations here--mostly involving sex and blackmail--are wholly humdrum. Hector's existential ruminations are somewhat stale, and his middle-class guilt about ""the workers"" has a hollow-ish ring. Still: a modestly intriguing variation on the hard-boiled genre, with vivid glimpses of Mexico City circa 1977.

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1989
Publisher: Viking