Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review of Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo (translated by Edith Grossman)

Red April: A Novel
3.5 out of 5: Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, the Associate District Prosecutor in the city of Ayachucha in Peru, is tasked with investigating a brutal killing spree that takes place during the time leading up to and including the Holy Week of 2000, culminating on Easter Sunday. The mutilated corpses of the victims bear wounds with religious significance, and Chacaltana wonders whether the murders signal a resurgence of the Shining Path terrorist group, a resurgence the Peruvian government refuses to acknowledge. As Chacaltana's investigation uncovers more uncomfortable facts, he faces increased bureaucratic hurdles and personal danger.

With endearing naiveté, Prosecutor Chacaltana bumbles his way through Peru's corrupt bureaucracy, achieving success through sheer tenacity rather than professional skill. Chacaltana's continuing obsession with his long-dead mother and his romantic interest in a pretty waitress add further dimensions to his likeable character. Roncagliolo's depiction of Ayachucha nicely offsets the citizens' religious devotion with their near constant fear of the city's sinister underbelly. Although Red April has some messy loose ends, the novel is a mostly enjoyable screed against the ineffective Peruvian system of justice knitted together with a suspenseful, quick-paced political thriller.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

Excellent review! I hadn't yet heard about this book, but after reading your thoughts I think I may try it. It seems like it would be a different type of book than those I normally read. Also, I wanted to wish you a very Happy New Year!!