Jared Millet's Reviews > Death in the Andes

Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
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Reading Around South America:

This is the second novel by a regional author during my trip around South America, and the first one I’ve ever read by a Nobel Prize winner. Perhaps it wasn’t the brightest idea to read a book called Death In the Andes while spending a week in the Peruvian Andes, but it certainly helped to reinforce the book’s imagery to spend time in the very landscape where it’s set.

I learned after the fact that this book is actually a follow-up to Vargas Llosa’s Who Killed Palomino Molermo? in which the character Corporal Lituma from that novel has been transferred to the tiny Andean community of Naccos. He and his lovesick junior partner are the only policemen in an area where the Communist terrorist organization The Shining Path is known to be active. All that is left of the community is a bar run by a huckster and his (possibly witch) wife, and a construction crew of mostly native Andeans who are slowly working on a road through the mountains. Three men from the community have gone missing and only Corporal Lituma seems to care.

Death In the Andes follows the outline of a mystery novel, but uses that structure to deep effect. There are several layers of story intertwined: that of Lituma’s missing persons case, that of his young adjutant’s strange and troubled love life, and the growing shadow of the Shining Path, basically a mob of mass-murderers roaming the countryside at will. The growing dread that the terrorists might show up at any moment and kill everyone puts the mystery of the missing workers into an even darker light and gives the novel a level of tension more akin to a horror story than a crime thriller.

Indeed, as Lituma gets closer and closer to the truth, and Vargas Llosa delves deeper into the dark forces that work on the human psyche, it becomes terrifyingly clear that something even more sinister than mere Communist guerillas is at work in the miserable Andean village of Naccos.

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Reading Progress

June 13, 2018 – Shelved
June 13, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
September 15, 2018 – Started Reading
September 20, 2018 – Finished Reading
September 21, 2018 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
September 21, 2018 – Shelved as: mystery
September 21, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
September 21, 2018 – Shelved as: south-america
September 21, 2018 – Shelved as: sex
September 27, 2018 – Shelved as: out-of-my-comfort-zone
October 30, 2018 – Shelved as: thriller

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