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The Black Minutes

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  394 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
When a young journalist named Bernardo Blanco is killed in the fictional Mexican port city of Paracuán, investigation into his murder reveals missing links in a disturbing multiple homicide case from twenty years earlier. As police officer Ramón “el Macetón” Cabrera discovers, Blanco had been writing a book about a 1970s case dealing with the murder of several young school ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published August 30th 2006)
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Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Isn't it true that in the life of every man there are five black minutes?

A journalist is murdered in Paracuan, a Mexican port city, and the clues left behind point to an incident that occurred more than thirty years prior.

When the state sets out to hurt somebody, nothing can be done to stop it.

I really started to get into the book when the action flashes back to 1977 and the search for a killer of little girls. Vicente Rangel Gonzalez, quite possibly the world's most reluctant detective, has pul
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door I must have it painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facin' up, when your whole world is black

(lyrics from The Rolling Stones)

It’s a black, bleak world that Martin Solares paints in his debut novel, a city riddled with corruption where drug lords, power hungry politicians, venal union leaders and bought officers of the law dine together in fancy restaurants while little girls are kidnapp
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Masquerading as a crime novel, Martín Solares' The Black Minutes is actually a fine piece of literature . The novel is set in a northern Mexico port city that is riddled with narcotraficos, police corruption and some sketchy Americans whose businesses dominate the local economy. The story begins when a young reporter is found murdered, and one of the local detectives is sent out to investigate. Over time, he finds links to some unsolved crimes, the kidnapping and murder of small girls in the 197 ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it

Μου είναι αδύνατο να θυμηθώ γιατί αγόρασα αυτό το βιβλίο αλλά η λογική λέει ότι είτε το πήρα γιατί μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ το εξώφυλλο είτε επειδή λατρεύω τον Taibo κ η προοπτική να διαβάσω ένα νέο Μεξικανό συγγραφέα αστυνομικών ιστοριών, δεδομένα με εξιτάρει. Ήταν μια καλή επιλογή, αρχικά γιατί κόλλησα με την ιστορία την οποία είχα συνέχεια στο μυαλό μου ακόμα κι όταν δεν έβρισκα χρόνο να την προχωρήσω και τέλος γιατί πάντα υπάρχει μια μικρή ικανοποίηση όταν διαβάζεις ένα όμορφο βιβλίο χωρίς
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuenta una historia policiaca llena de intrigas y misterios que te mantiene atrapado de principio a fin.
Me gustó y lo recomiendo si te gustan las historias de ese género y si no, también lo vas a disfrutar.
Al final el autor dice que es una historia de Ficción y los crímenes no son reales, pero estoy segura que muchos aspectos de la novela están basados en realidades de los policía, los políticos, el crimen organizado y el narco mexicano.
Ty Wilson
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir, detective, mystery, 2015
This is a tale of a murder. A murder that leads to a deeper mystery about some long ago murders of little girls. This is a tale of Mexico, Mexico now and Mexico then, although surprising little had changed between the two time periods. This is a noir tale with heroes who don't want to be where they are, nor do they do a whole lot to change that situation. This is a tale of a police department overflowing with characters, each and every one with a unique nickname, and they run the gamut from insi ...more
Jeff Scott
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing

“…everyone has five black minutes…”

And so begins one of the better detective noir stories out there. While reading, I am constantly reminded of the classics of noir fiction like Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, one honest detective in a crooked town. Corruption is rampant and obvious, but who is willing to take the risk to put a stop to it. However, in Solares’ case, you get a little Latin American Surrealism with your detective noir. It’s a light version, but for those expecting a straightforwar
Apr 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
It's hard to believe that "The Black Minutes" is Martin Solares' first novel. Elevating the form of detective noir, he weaves an intriguing portrait of a small Mexican drilling community that is both romantic and horrific.
The novel is set in two time-periods. In present day, a journalist is murdered and investigator Ramon Cabrera uncovers his expose on the grisly deaths of several young girls twenty-years prior. The bulk of the book revolves around that story, in which we are introduced to a se
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
The Black Minutes is a detective/crime novel set in a fictional Mexican town which unfolds in a unique fashion in that it is told from multiple perspectives. While the format lends some interest to the proceedings it is also a drawback in that the voices of the main characters blend and the voices of the secondary characters add little overall. The story is interesting enough - the current day murder of a journalist opens up a decades old investigation into a series of gruesome child murders - h ...more
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
A novel with narratives that fracture off into different narrators once in a while, with sometimes heavily stylized voices, okay that's fine. Detective novel with procedural passages, uniquely Mexican flavour to the Police organization, specific historical critique of said Police, all okay too.

It's just the narrative voices (apart from the two main characters Cabrera and Rangel) all sound the same, periphery characters are sketched and given very little detail, thought processes and motivations
Dec 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
I was eager to read this book after seeing very positive reviews -- some said a "police procedural," which I like but my main interest was that it's by a Mexican author and set in Mexico, so I was really looking forward to some real sense of place and culture -- which I didn't really get in this book. It was hard to connect to the characters (it's told from different perspectives) and to keep up with the names and nicknames (a glossary helps, but a little more development of identity of the char ...more
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
This crime novel by Mexican author Martin Solares is a mixture of police procedural, serial killer thriller and exploration of corrupt cops set in a seaside Mexican city that started out really energetic and vibrant, but by the end was completely rambling, stumbling to a finishing point. At 430 pages, this novel could have [and should have] used some trimming and tightening up. The unhinged, all-over-the-place way the story is told and writing style of Solares might have been intentional to conv ...more
Natalie Hamilton
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read but Solares breaks a few cardinal rules of detective/police procedural fiction that undermine the quality of the story, particularly as it relates to the perpetrator of the crimes. I was drawn to the book by reviews indicating magical realism or surrealism, but those reviewers clearly don't understand the generic distinctions. There are some unusual (and rather marvellous) passages, but each of them is explained away as a dream or dream state, which eliminates any magical realist ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS FABULOUS!!! Highly recommended!!!
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This fast-paced Mexican police novel got me out of a reading drought in which I was languishing for a while battling with several opened novels. The moment I turned the first page, I knew I was embarking on a familiar and comforting detective story set in the murky waters of a fictional Mexican town following one, then two police detectives of the flawed but honourable type battling the corruption of the town's leaders and their own police colleagues to get to the bottom of some horrific crimes ...more
Monica Carter
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: btba
The article was by a new columnist, Johnny Guerrero, a guy from Chihuahua. Rangel didn't like his style. From the first day, he was writing articles attacking the chief, like he was on the mayor's payroll. He interspersed his opinion with the facts and he exaggerated things, but more that that he seasoned his writing with flowery words: he made a bum into a derelict, a prostitute into a strumpet. For him, an autopsy was the legal necropsy and he wrote mean-spirited captions under the photos: Th
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Well, I had high hopes for this book. Perhaps that contributed to my disappointment.

All told, I think it is a valuable entry into international crime fiction because it incorporates some rather bold literary tools that are otherwise unfamiliar to the genre, not to mention it bills itself as Mexican Noir!

Despite its merits of ambition though, it fell flat in execution. It felt to me like the author was trying to be reminiscent of Bolano in 2666, but just did not have the talent...yet--I will sa
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of noir, police procedurals, Latin American geography and culture
Recommended to Patrick by: Article in The Nation magazine
I eventually enjoyed immersing myself in the police drama, the landscape, and the dark secrets of the coastal Mexican city of Paracuan. However, the English translation seemed very uneven and created a negative first impression. I was immediately put off by what seemed to be amateurish and/or unimaginative translation in the first few chapters. The characters and the premise of the story were compelling enough to keep me going, and I was pleased to find as I read into "Book Two" (the historical, ...more
Sharon Li
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What can I say, this is just about one of the best works of contemporary fiction out there. Hands down the best crime fiction. You can read a good synopsis here. The story, told from multiple perspectives, is flabbergastingly (is this even a word?) multilayered. Martin Solares's interweaving the past with the present puts the reader on a whirlwind roller-coaster ride (the thrilling good kind that gives you lots of endorphins).
However, The Black Minutes isn't great just for its story-telling. Mr.
Lindsy Clark
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I feel like in the 400 pages that I read nothing much happened plot-wise. However, it wasn't a painful read by any means. I enjoyed the story, a murder of a journalist takes place as a result of him digging up information about a series murders that happened 20 years ago in Mexico. The plot starts in present-day, then switches to the past for about 3/4 of the book, finally resolving in the present at the end. The only thing that I complain about with this book was the number of characters. When ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a fantastic detective story. A huge cast of characters and the backdrop of an entirely Mexican culture gave it an authentic and disconcerting feel. The culture of machismo and rampant (police and political) corruption did not do much to bring down the sometimes hilarious and sometimes frustrating and dark plot points. The novel plows forward, barely stopping to catch up with its own storyline. The reader is at pace with the lead detective--though there is one for each of the two time pe ...more
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
This Mexican crime novel was in turns fascinating and frustrating. Solares tells two intertwined stories involving police and criminals today and in the 1970s. Many of the same characters are involved, so that you see how the earlier events influenced the later events. Solares starts the novel in the present, then shifts for hundreds of pages into the past, and the shifts back to the present. There is a large cast of characters, and keeping them straight was difficult. By the end of the book I w ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book only because it was recommended in Latina magazine, and for some reason, it is hard to find really go novels by Latino/a writers. This book was actually written by a Mexican writer. He set it up as a fictional town in Mexico filled with corrupt cops, politicians, etc., and then he dropped in people who were trying to solve crimes the right way. I read this book in three days. It was that good. What was also funny was how descriptive he was with the characters. I thought it was f ...more
Alejandro Orradre
Correcta novela negra que transcurre en México, con una trama policíaca en la que se ven inmersas cárteles de la droga, policías corruptos y personajes oscuros que como pescadores ajenos lanzan la caña para sacar beneficios. Desconozco si lo narrado en Los Minutos Negros es real o no, pero no cabe duda que el autor se basa en aspectos reales de su país para realizar una más que lograda recreación del ambiente en aquel país durante los años 70 del siglo XX.

Su lectura se me hizo algo lenta porque
May 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book received some very prestigious awards, and I feel bad about giving up on it. I just couldn't get into it. Perhaps the translation isn't as good as it should be. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for it. I don't know.

There's a police investigation into the death of a journalist who was looking into an earlier investigation into the serial murders of young girls. There's police corruption. The detective investigating the journalist's murder is threatened and involved in an accid
May 11, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: crime-fiction
booklists best crime:

The Black Minutes. By Martín Solares. 2010. Black Cat, $14 (9780802170682).

The sheer exuberant inventiveness of this remarkable Mexican debut may mystify some American crime-fiction fans, used to tamer fare. Set in the made-up port city of Paracuán, on the Gulf of Mexico, the story starts in present time, with policeman Ramón “El Macetón” Cabrera assigned to investigate a journalist’s murder. Soon, though, the story leaps back in time to another investigation in the 1970s. A
Guy Gonzalez
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Calling The Black Minutes, Martin Solares' debut novel, a "quixotic adventure" is an understatement; it features a compelling cast of colorful characters and his loose, almost stream-of-consciousness style reminded me a bit of Richard Price's excellent Lush Life. I'm not sure if it's a real genre, but halfway through I began referring to it as Tropical Noir, though Solares' emphasis on vivid characters and imagery over plot makes it all feel more literary than you'd typically expect from noir.

Robert Stewart
May 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
The longer this discordant mess of a novel went on, the more obvious it became that author Solares was struggling to wrap it up in an poorly conceived and deeply unsatisfying political intrigue. As things occurred to him, he wrote them in, regardless of their deleterious effect on the work. An attempt was made to bring some cohesion to this hot mess by formatting the narrative with character testimonies and belaboured dream sequences, but it was so clearly enforced on the work as a last ditch ef ...more
Nick Duretta
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Honest cops battle corrupt cops while tracking a serial child murderer in a fictitious Mexican city. This reminded me of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels. The cops have distinct personas, many with nicknames like "El Travolta" and "Blind Man." Right from the start you know that the policemen with integrity are fighting a losing battle. Solares writes directly and with brutal poetry, he both grieves for and adores his country.
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it
The Black Minutes employs Latin American magical realism among other techniques to create a mystery unlike any other. Solares combines jazz, narco culture, and noir into a heady stew of a police procedural, giving the genre a good punch to the gut. A good mystery for fans of Garcia Marquez and his compadres and an even better one for genre fans looking for a taste of something different. Chabon better watch out - Solares gives him a run for his money!
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Martín Solares is a Mexican writer whose first novel, The Black Minutes, is a crime thriller that, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, "treads a ... tightrope between police procedural and surreal fantasy."

Awards include: Premio Nacional de Cuento Efrain Huerta (the Efrain Huerta National Prize for Short Stories), 1998, for "El Planeta Cloralex"; Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize
More about Martin Solares...

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