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Reader abandoned as writer jettisons storyline
on 14 April 2013
This book gets off to a good start and tells the story of an Anglo-Argentinean teacher-turned-interpreter-spy in Buenos Aires who gets involved in political corruption under the government of President Carlos Menem in the mid-1990s.
It involves an American couple who are presumably CIA agents, crooked middlemen, economists from the IMF and foreign investors interested in plans to privatize the state-owned oil company YPF.
I found this section interesting as I had personal experience of the similar privatization program in Brazil where I live.
I am not sure how much knowledge the author had because it is difficult to believe that all these international economists, investors and high ranking Argentinean officials needed an English interpreter.
Nor is it possible to believe that an American diplomat would refer to the way things are done in Argentina as "real banana republic stuff" especially when talking to an Argentinean (even an Anglo-Argentinean).
Argentineans have a reputation for arrogance among other Latin Americas and would never accept being compared with banana republics.
Nevertheless, it is a good story and the fact that the main character is homosexual adds another shadowy aspect to all the secrecy.
However, the writer suddenly ruins everyone as though he has got tired of the plot and the last third of the book is about the various gay characters involved having to confront AIDS.
The previous plot is jettisoned and the reader finds himself coping with what is almost a separate story.