I read this book in Spanish, which given the level of my Spanish comprehension and my disinclination to refer to a dictionary every 30 seconds means I skipped a lot of words, but I think I got a reasonable sense of the plot. (It's amazing how many words are superfluous.) This, the author's first major work, is a brilliant, detailed depiction of the lives of a group of cadets at a military boarding school in Lima. Part Lord of the Flies, part Catcher in the Rye, part murder mystery, it sheds a penetrating and often unflattering light on many aspects of Peruvian society: the military, machoism, female subjugation, violence, poverty, and the many social, racial, ethnic, and sexual disparities and inequities which I assume still exist, hopefully to a lesser extent than when this book was written. The story line is compelling and the main characters gripping. A brilliant tour-de-force by a Nobel Prize winning author. Five stars.