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Red April Paperback – 1 Jan 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Paperback Edition edition (1 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843548313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843548317
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'We united to salute the very special combination of narrative prowess, psychological drama and social revelation with which Roncagliolo's novel rewards its page-riffling reader.' --Boyd Tonkin, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize chairman

`Riveting... As the moral line dissolves between terrorist and counter-terrorist... Edith Grossman's versatile translation spans hard-boiled noir, punctilious legalese, and the illiterate scrawls of a would-be serial killer... Red April is rooted in Peru's past and present, but resonates far beyond.' --Guardian

`Violence stalks the pages of this... sophisticated work of terrifying cunning; here is a novel to make one gasp and wonder anew at the furtive extremes of human behaviour... A dark and almost unhinged display.' Irish Times --Irish Times

`The meticulous documenting of barbarities, magical beliefs, the colourful details of Holy Week... rites of blood and torture... the extreme cynicism of government... The terrible story of a society without hope.'
--Independent on Sunday

From the Publisher

Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2011: 'We united to salute the very special combination of narrative prowess, psychological drama and social revelation with which Roncagliolo's novel rewards its page-riffling reader.' Boyd Tonkin, lead judge

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr David Mankin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read the opening page of the novel in a bookshop and decided that the writer's style was unusual to say the least, and it didn't really appeal to me. But a week later I read a couple of reviews and realised I should have flicked through several more pages before setting it aside (as the opening is intended to be written in a particular way because it is actually a statement being given by a witness, but I'll say no more than that). The principal character is a strange yet intriguing character who you warm to despite his apparent naive view of life and rather odd habits. As the story unfolds you are plunged into the dark and disturbing history of modern Peru. Rather than reminding me of modern crime/thriller writers I felt there was more of a resonance with some of Graham Greene's novels. This is probably a fairer and more accurate comparison for judging the merits of this author.
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Format: Hardcover
Opening `Red April' and reading the first report from our protagonist Associate District Prosecutor Felix Chacaltana Saldivar (quite a mouthful) I wasn't quite sure what this book was going to be about as the cover so heavily makes you think this is going to be some highly religious book. However reading the report of a murder, by burning, you get the instant impression that this is going to be a thriller. In reality you get a little bit of both but one the whole, for me at least, you are also getting a glimpse into the cultural turbulence of Peru, something I didn't really know that much about.

However the burnt body is the first in a series of killings during Holy Week in Ayacucho all baring striking similarities soon Felix believes he is on the trail of a serial killer which leads him into the offices of politicians, the crypts of priests, police stations and prisons and through all walks of life as he tries to solve the mystery. This of course gives Roncagliolo the perfect way of showing you how things are in Peru from girls who have to marry their rapists, the terrorism outside of the main cities and the corruption. Some could say it's a biased view and yet you get the feeling the only sides there are out there are the bad and the worse. Back to the plot, well I don't want to give too much away. I will say that it starts slowly but surely before building to a heady, verging on almost confusing, climax which you won't expect - despite the fact there are quite a lot of clues from the start.

One of the books weaknesses and strengths is Felix himself.
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Format: Hardcover
The thriller is a elastic form, and at its best, noir fiction from Dashiell Hammett to Chester Himes' A Rage in Harlem to David Peace has highlighted social ills, raged against political corruption and embodied the spirt of a place and time. Santiago Roncagliolo's first novel, while ostensibly a thriller centring around the search for a serial killer as viscerally chilling as those of Karen Slaughter and Thomas Harris, takes as its backdrop - and eventually its denouement, the history of 20th century Peru and is struggle against Sendero Luminoso - the Shining Path terrorists who have the country for generations. It is a brave - a possibly foolhardy choice - but it is a story worthy of telling.

Roncagliolo's tale is a powerful one - though it sometimes feels as though he is attempting to compress too much of his country's past; its sins and its suffering; into a form that is too short to take the strain. The detective hero Chacaltana is a fascinating character - his mania for words and order; his conversations with his dead mother; his dreams of redemption and his nightmares of disorder - he makes for an unlikely but compelling anti-hero turned hero.

As a thriller, it is compelling - tales of serial killers are so resolutely American and urban, that the rural setting of Ayacucho is refreshing, and Roncagliolo's flair for the morbid and the visceral is unquestionable. As a document of contemporary Peru - about Shining Path, the misdeeds of the Peruvian government, and the complicity of Aldo Fujimori in suppressing terrorists threat and the subsequent cover up - it is powerful and thought-provoking. If it sometimes lacks the sweep and depth of James Ellroy or David Peace on similar territory, this is to compare it with the finest of the genre: and Red April is a fine novel - brave, intelligent and well written - a worthy debut, its ambition and execution are considerable and it is a fascinating read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a prize-winning novel translated from the Spanish. The cover is spot on!

The subject is an appallingly violent period in the history of Latin America - the war between the Maoist guerrillas of Sendero Luminoso and the Peruvian state. The setting is Easter 2000, Holy Week in Ayacucho.

We begin with crime fiction. The novel obeys some of the rules and realises some of the expectations of that genre - well to begin with. The cases are a series of brutal murders.

The investigator is Assistant Prosecutor Felix Chacaltana Saldivar, a curious man who initially took my sympathy and even affection. He is a deeply conscientious official, naïve and honest. He left Lima after being dumped by his wife for lack of ambition. For good measure he has a curious relationship with his mother , his mamacita. He is now in a backwater, he believes, where the war is definitely over – so his superiors insist, and then the corpses show up. As the body count rises he determinedly follows procedures with a faith in official justice. This faith is to be sorely tested.

There is a love interest in Edith, a young waitress in a restaurant with seriously rare cuisine.

Black comedy merges with sadism as the narrative flows into horror. A prolonged description of rape I found shocking. By the end we are in a disturbing world that mixes the supernatural and the psychotic. As dark April, the cruellest month, turns towards May it feels like the apocalypse has come to the Andes. We have descended into hell.

I was reminded of the Secret in Their Eyes – about the dirty war in Argentina. There are similarities between Saldivar and Benjamin Chapparro, the justice official in Sacheri’s novel. However, Saldivar lacks a basic humanity.
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