by Sunny Frazier
Details on how to enter to win a copy of Blood Tango at the end of this review.
It is impossible to write a mystery set in Argentina in 1945 without pulling in the politics of the period. It’s also hard not to have the larger-than-life figures of Juan Peron and Evita Duarte dominate other characters. Author Annamaria Alfieri manages to juggle all these elements and still keep the story of a young woman’s murder in the forefront.
Luz is a “nobody” in the picture, just a girl working in a dress shop. She idolizes Evita, who is a regular patron. Like any star struck teenage girl in any time period, she emulates the radio star and mistress of Peron by dying her hair blond and styling it like Evita. A simple act of kindness by Evita–the gift of one of her cast-off dresses–brings an abrupt end to the young woman’s life.
Many people would like to see Evita dead. As an influential force over Peron, she has become a rallying point for the poor and a thorn in the side of both the army and the unions. Banned from her radio show and kept into hiding for her safety, Evita impatiently waits for her moment of triumph by coming to the aid of her lover.
During a political rally, Luz is mistaken for Evita and later that night is killed in the doorway of the shop. Detective Roberto Leary, half-Hispanic, half-Irish, is assigned the case. He knows he’s not expected to solve it; his work is a sham as politics eclipses crime fighting in corruption of the day. But he is nevertheless pulled into the case and drawn to Luz’s friend, Pilar.
Pilar spends her days in the dress shop, her nights doing the tango at one of the nightclubs. Leary’s questions go from professional to personal to passionate as they come together on the dance floor.
Alfieri’s description of Buenos Aries, its majestic buildings and boulevards, is a beautiful backdrop to a story of turbulence and terror. Evita is shown as both high-strung and powerful, Peron is a puzzle she cannot always figure out or control. The author brings us closer to the truth than the legend we have come to know. She brings the story together through the eyes of a detective and a dancer who matter very little in the larger historical picture but very much to the reader.
To enter to win a copy of Blood Tango, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Tango,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 3, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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