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Needle in a Haystack (Inspector Lascano #1)

3.12 of 5 stars 3.12  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  61 reviews
"This is not simply a triumph of style; it is both a reflection on a time of bloodshed and a raw vision of human misery."—Guillermo Saccomanno, winner of the Argentine National Literature Prize

"This man knows. He knows about guns, knows about women, knows about dead bodies. . . . But above all he knows how to narrate."—Ana María Shua, author of El peso de la tentación

Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Bitter Lemon Press (first published 2006)
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It must be hard to live in a world where every woman is either a whore or a manipulator,or a frigid religious fanatic. And every man is handsome, tough, walks with his genitals thrust forward (or in his hand) , and is a sexual target for every female he comes across. Enough with the machismo already! This is a great book for a guy who hates women. However, if you are looking for a good mystery, I recommend Connolly or Sanford. This story is very disjointed with no apparent connection. It bounces ...more
Like most Americans, I know almost nothing of Argentine history -- however, unlike most, I do at least know that there was a very nasty internal conflict known as the "Dirty War" some thirty or so years ago (like everything relating to the Dirty War, different people have different ideas on the start and end dates). I knew, in broad terms, that a military junta seized power and waged a brutal campaign of repression against various left-wing elements in society, ranging from armed guerrilla group ...more
Carey Combe
Sep 25, 2011 Carey Combe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie, Hayes, Laura, Claire
I read a review that said that "the reader will find (the book) suffocating and yet impossible to put down" and I couldn't agree more. The unusual writing style, once I got used to it, only helped in the forward momentum of this horrifying, yet eminently believable, story.
I know little of Argentine history except for the internal conflict some 30 years ago known as the "Dirty War". It was astonishing how while the military junta waged a bloody campaign of repression daily life went on more or l
pretty kickass Argentinian noir set in 1979, with ghosts. kind of a very funny way of doing dialog, all set together in all italics at the end of chapters usually, with the majority of chapters being in the head of the police superintendent or omniscient voice. this is book one of a proposed three, and they are making a movie of books.
reminds me of Robert wilson's Sevilla police detective chasing terrorists (and ghosts) in his series

also reminds me of an
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This under-200-page short novel is a violent, nuanced look at Argentina's recent past during the Dirty War years of the late 1970s. Mallo accomplishes bringing the reader into the atmosphere of fear and paranoia that must have been part of everyone's daily lives, and he does it with spare characterization and a tight plot reminiscent of Hemingway. The English translator captured the tension excellently.

We follow multiple threads of a story that crystallize into a single not-so-neat ending; diver
Nancy Oakes
If you are at all interested in the time period of Argentina's "dirty war," you will definitely not want to miss this novel. It is very well crafted and the writing is most excellent.

I wrote my thoughts about this book on my reading journal blog -- feel free to go on over and take a look.
Kriminálka z Argentiny z dob diktatury, temná a nekompromisní. Detektivní zápletka vlastně jen zastřešuje příběhy lidí, kteří v ovzduší neustálého strachu z vyšší moci, žijí a přežívají. Autor má nesmírně zajímavý sloh, věty a slova odsypávají v rytmu, který občas připomíná dobře mířené a pravidelné údery lopatou, či silnější kladivem do kovadliny, občas je to zase přímo kulometná nálož. Skvělý nápad s dialogy jdoucími po sobě, že je občas složité rozlišit, kdo hovoří. O to je ale působivější se ...more
Ernesto Mallo
Feb 24, 2010 Ernesto Mallo added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm the author
Julie Caroline
Étonnée au début par le choix d'afficher les dialogues en monoparagraphe, tous interlocuteurs confondus. Finalement cela passe assez bien, et force un peu l'imagination, notamment sur le ton du discours. Cela peut rebuter, mais c'est important pour poser l'ambiance.
J'aime bien la découverte chapitre par chapitre de chaque personnage, peu liée à une chronologie.
Je ne suis pas habituée aux prénoms hispanique et mélangeait un peu les personnages au début, mais ils ont des caractères et histoires su

Ernesto Mallo's Needle in a Haystack is a wonderful, terrible, tragic book. It is a police procedural--not to be confused with a mystery--and so we know who committed the crime and why, but not how the investigation will go.

The setting for the novel is Dirty War Argentina. Lascano is a police superintendent who becomes involved in a case where a body is dumped along with two others. The two were "subversives" killed by the army, but the third was plan
Monica Rodriguez
I started reading this without high hopes. I thought I'd soon put it down. Instead, I was drawn into the story. And yet, now that I'm finished, I'm trying to pinpoint why. The style and voice are unusual. It is written in -- or translated into -- the present tense, which threw me off at first, but that lasted only a page or so. Mainly, the opening of the story made me curious. As the story progressed, it revealed its secrets slowly, without indulging in backstory before its time. It gave just en ...more
Beata Bowen
Not a detective story per se, although there is a detective, or rather an inspector in it (not sure of the difference). This is more of an account of the joys of living under the right wing dictatorship of the 1970s. Around 30,000 people "disappeared" during the Dirty War, but this book chronicles only a few of these. That part of the story was interesting, but there were a couple of things here that detracted from this being a very good book (as opposed to just a good book): 1. the way the dial ...more
Rob Kitchin
Needle in a Haystack is a noir crime novel blended with social/political observation. The story is not driven by a ‘whodunnit’ or ‘howdunnit’ narrative, as it is fairly clear from the start who killed the third body and why. Rather the hook is who will win out between Lascano and Giribaldi; whether justice will prevail. I’ll avoid a spoiler, but needless to say the book has one of the best endings to a novel I’ve read so far this year. Throughout the characterisation and social relations are kee ...more
This detective novel about the political oppression in 1970s Argentina feels uncannily relevant or contemporary in 2014 -- with state violence on the rise in the Americas (and elsewhere) whether with highly publicized cases or simply systemic violence justified with all sorts of philosophical and political contortions throughout North, Central, and South America.
Free Friday offering from Barnes and Noble. First of three books translated to English by Ernesto Mallo. The setting is Buenos Aires in the late-1970's. Detective Lascano, nicknamed Perro (the Dog) is trying to solve a crime that certain people do not want to be solved! Lascano doggedly keeps 'detecting,' putting himself as well as his friend (the coroner) and Eva, the woman who reminds him of his dead wife (Marisa) at risk! We don't know where Lascano got his nickname, but assume it's about blo ...more
I had been looking forward to settling in with this, but couldn't make it past the first dozen pages.

Yeah I'm getting old and yeah I'm getting grumpy, but I have always felt that if an author can't be bothered to make himself clear (why do you think punctuation and quotation marks were invented, huh!!!?) then I can't be bothered to puzzle out what he's saying, or trying to say, or wanting to say, or thinking of saying.

Sure, I realize this is art as opposed to poor old ordinary prose, but gimme
Original Doll (Lea Martinuš)
The book cover promises something shocking and exciting but I didn't expirienced it that way at all.
Confusing mix of characters and subplots that grow together at the end of the book. However, that doesn't make it any more interesting. Many events and descriptions are unnecessary and used to bore me.
I didn't like style of dialogue - I couldn't always track who's talking what and it took me a lot of time returning and guessing, leaving me confused.
I didn't like the end, though I know it's first
Dark, troubling, sad story. Set in South America during the period after a junta has occurred. The military is still in clean up mode, and no one knows who is who, or on which side, as corruption is the only game in town, very well written, though not at all pleasant. The thing that carried me was the balancing sentiments of the detective, a widower who is lonely and lives in the memories of his lost wife. The writing in these passages is beautiful. I wouldn't have expected to have liked this bo ...more
Helena Bosnjak
THe one of those books you can read in one day...Truly fascinating..
Mar 14, 2012 Ginny rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NOBODY
Shelves: fiction, nook, own
Thank goodness this was a Free Friday Nook Book and I didn't spend any money on it. This book is very difficult to read. The timeline is confusing. But the worst part is trying to follow the dialog. Whenever a person or group of people are speaking or thinking, the "conversation" is in italics, with no quotes, or breaks. So you can have three people speaking and you have to guess who is saying what or even when the dialog changes from one person to another. Add on top of that the depressing stor ...more
noir, junta, argentina. cant be bad
Sort of confusing dialogues.
Dee Renee  Chesnut
Needle in a Haystack was free when I downloaded it to my Nook in 2011. This is set in Argentina by an Argentine author, so I thought what better time to read it than on a trip which will have three days in Buenos Aires. Wrong, for the darkness and corruption described provokes feels of apprehension and anxiety long after the book is completed.

I recommend Needle in a Haystack for all readers, especially readers who enjoy literary procedural-detective novels.
I really wanted to like this book. The premise is fantastic. However, I didn't care for the style of dialogue. Usually I could figure out who was talking, but not always. I couldn't tell if the dialogue was bunched together like that because of an attempt at artistry or poor translation into English, but either way it didn't work for me. I really enjoyed the story of Eva though, and would have enjoyed the whole book more if it would have developed her character and story more.
This story is intense, dark and frightening. Mallo brings terror to the reader as he describes life in an unlivable place. Most people don't have to live with the sense they might be murdered by nightfall regardless of how innocent of wrong doings they are, unless of course they lived in Argentina in the seventies.

This is one story I was glad to finish and get back to my own world of relative safety.
Netradičný a o niečo náročnejší detektívny román zasadený do obdobia vojenskej junty v Argentíne. Zaujímavo riešené dialógy a nie chronologický dej vyžadujú 100% pozornosť, ale ten príbeh si pozornosť rozhodne zaslúži. A naviac je na detektívku dosť krátky (190 strán).

Viac na mojom blogu.
Strong freshman effort, a hardboiled murder mystery set in 1979 Buenos Aires during the Argentine "dirty war" when defaced bodies were common and simply disappeared citizens more common. I enjoyed Mallo's experimentation with form and blame the British translator for some of the awkward language. Looking forward to the sequel.
Mallo used a very different wrting style for this book. I thought the book was a little confusing in the middle of the story but, it could have been because of Mallo's writing style. The rest of the book was quite good. I would not have wanted to live here during the time this book took place but, it made for a good story.
Cooper Renner
A mixture of police procedural and political novel which works very well and smoothly. Set in Argentina during the years of "los desaparecidos" and the military dictatorship, it features Lascano, an essentially honest policeman who wants to solve a murder, even when its circumstances overlap with yet another military crime.
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Ernesto Mallo en su página oficial de Internet, se define de esta manera: "Nací demasiado joven y sin la debida preparación para enfrentar este mundo. A los seis años tuve que abandonar mi educación para asistir a la escuela. A los veinte pensé que era mi deber cambiar el mundo. Lo cambié, es éste, disculpe."

Director teatral, guionista, dramaturgo, traductor y periodista, comenzó su carrera como n
More about Ernesto Mallo...

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Inspector Lascano (2 books)
  • Sweet Money: An Inspector Lascano Mystery
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