Roberto Ampuero's novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brulé are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro's Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature's most beloved figures - Pablo Neruda.
Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life. As Cayetano fumbles around his first case, finding it hard to embrace the new inspector identity foisted upon him, he begins to learn more about Neruda's hidden agenda. Neruda sends him on a whirlwind expedition around the world, ending back in Chile, where Pinochet's coup plays out against the final revelations of their journey.
Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero's novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era.
The Neruda Case is a fun summer read, a great introduction to the work of a beloved Chilean author, and is worth a read for the terrific atmosphere alone. At a time when "staycation" has become a buzzword, The Neruda Case is the best kind of armchair travel there is. Ampuero's breezy read is an absolute winner. Mix yourself a pisco sour and dive right in. (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
While Ampuero depicts Neruda warts and all, he still clearly admires his complex and demanding humanness.
Not just for mystery fans - or readers of Latin American literature.
Starred Review. Read this one as much for the story as for the wonderful way Ampuero has with words.
Isabel Allende, author of Daughter of Fortune and The House of the Spirits
Roberto Ampuero's The Neruda Case is a sweeping mystery set against the backdrop of the Chilean coup. This unforgettable book is brilliantly imagined, and features the poet Pablo Neruda in a remarkably intimate role. Roberto Ampuero's writing is exhilarating; he is a delight to read.
The country of Chile might be a vibrant democracy now - its shining "Jewel of the Pacific," Valparaíso, lined with upscale businesses and boutique hotels - but there have been turbulent upheavals in its recent political history, and the country's preeminent poet, Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda (born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto), was a significant player in these events.
A left-leaning intellectual, Neruda wasted no time in praising Joseph Stalin and the USSR for helping to prevent the Nazi takeover of Europe. In time, however, as he became disillusioned with the man, Neruda's support for Stalin declined, but he remained sympathetic to communist ideals and became an official member of the Communist Party of Chile in July 1945. In 1948, when Chilean President González Videla outlawed the party, Neruda went into hiding, eventually escaping to Argentina in 1949. In the early '50s,...
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