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Paco Ignacio Taibo II: An Easy Thing (A Hector Belascoaran Shayne Detective Novel Book I)

"It was up to him to defend himself against the myth of the super-detective, with its cosmopolitan and exotic delusions...."

§ Yes, you know: detective novels are a global pandemic and they're all the same, thank you very much... yawn. True, but this Mexican guy Taibo II (a.k.a. "PIT") can actually write outside the genre without the cliches killing your brain. It's fast food lit extremely well delivered, smoothly written with great figures of speech and a soft surrealist action driven by a likeable anti-hero called Hector Belascoaran Shayne (Spanish father, Irish mother) who perambulates around Mexico City at night (yes, he's an insomniac) listening to a DJ called El Cuervo (yes, he's an old school friend) on the radio as he goes about solving the crimes (or mysteries that could be crimes) with the dogged persistence of a Joycean Jackie Gleason. He shares an office with a plumber and a sewage engineer, so while satire is never far away, the action is more post-modern than farcical, and quite realistic unlike most post-modern narratives.

PIT II An Easy Thing

If Godard had written novels instead of making movies, this is the way they would've turned out.

Taibo's/Belascoaran's crimes are mostly political, regardless of the motivation. Latin American society is a polarized society between top and bottom, and Belascoaran is a bottom feeder bringing down the top. An ex-engineer, he's a cop with a social conscience. Like a socialist priest, he's not in it for the money. He's not married, but he has a brother and sister, so he could be a Latin Mike Hammer with a family. Compulsive smoker and soda pop drinker, he hallucinates his way forward like an academic who works all night in his office and sleep-walks into trouble during the day. He packs a gun, dynamite, a notebook and an endless pack of Delicados ciggaros. Yes, he gets laid, he gets hammered, he gets injured (loses an eye), he works three cases at once (or four if you count the disposition of his mother & father's estate), all the while mining the soul of modern Mexico.

Not bad, and at the moment a real bargain in the Amazon KDP format (Kindle eBook) at 99 cents. What's not to like about sentences such as, "It was a country where power was won and held at cock point" and "The lonely gloom of his cigarette...." Now, senores, that's noir.

PIT II: An Easy Thing at Amazon »»

Some Clouds is number #2. Here Hector Belascoaran Shayne plays the white knight for a friend of his sister, a redhead who gets thumped and raped by some nasties who are after her inheritance. The usual Mexican sociology and witticisms abound and the writer -- "Paco Ignacio" -- is integrated into the action. You might hiss or you might laugh and laugh.

PIT: Return to the Same City (Poisoned Pen Press, 2005)

"If a detective orthodoxy happens to exist, a heterodoxy must also exist, a kind of heresy."

If this guy Hector Belascoaran keeps adding sugar to his Coca Cola he'll be dead from diabetes and jaw rot long before a bullet takes him out. No matter. He's alive when he should be dead and like Lazarus keeps going down for the wrong woman... or the wrong book. He reads. He reads in his office armchair and he reads on the subway and he reads on a stake-out, all the usual suspects, Borges, Dos Passos, Carlos Fuentes, Graham Greene... and some gringo called Marc Behm, whoever he is (look him up) (in a genre full of cults, he's another). Again, what saves PIT's writing from the sterile post-modern trap of the writer having no real subject other than writing itself are the real-time characterizations, the authentic insider view of Mexico City (the scape, the people, the institutions), the droll humor and aesthetic balance between his hero's working fantasies and the real world.

Tabio: Return to the Same City

But now he goes to the squid-pit of Acapulco, accompanied by a piss-tank Brit reporter for Rollingstone (after all, you need someone to talk to) trailing a sleazy Cuban CIA mule who reputedly cut the hands off Che (for proof) when CG was captured and shot in Bolivia. This is number 4 in the Hector Belascoaran Shayne series and the story-line here is a bit of a sow's ear, so maybe PIT II should've left him face down in the pouring rain, dead and done (No Happy Ending).

"The detectives before were good, these days they're worth pure dick," says the shrink. You got that right, pal.

Interesting writer, though. Check 'im out (Kindle List): Paco Ignacio Taibo II »»


also, check out LR's new novel RADIO BRAZIL »»

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