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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book which grows on you. I hadn't read the earlier book so I didn't know what to expect. To say the least, the style of writing takes a bit of getting used to, especially as there can be an entire page or more of dialogue all contained in one large paragraph. It does make the reader concentrate which is no bad thing, actually. Once you get used to this, the story begins to unfold with some rapidity. And there's a lot going on. Not only are there vicious internecine rivalries in the Police Force, the overflowing of their barbarism leads into the social lives of the main protagonists. There is a slight diffuculty, too, with the personal names, since some male names appear, at first, to relate to female characters.

However, we are in Buenos Aires just after the collapse of the Junta and crime is endemic in all strata of society. This, again, causes confusion for the reader, as Mallo's style is to land you with a quick and unexpected death almost out of the blue.

But somehow it works very well. The dark undertones of a grubby city with grubby people only help to develop some excellent scene setting by this talented author. Of course, without the translation from the Spainsh, we'd be a bit lost so some high commendation to Katherine Silver for her work.

Superintendent Lascano has a tough job dealing with his superiors, a rather soft-hearted and likeable bank robber and a search for his missing girlfriend, Eva, whilst the thief similarly struggles with a useless band of helpers and a wife intent on leaving him.

That the main players find their lives intertwined makes this a very engaging book. One is never quite sure how it will pan out and shades of 'Casablanca' insinuate themselves into the curtain call.

As I said, after a slow start, I became really involved and wished that he book was somewhat longer than its 220 or so pages. But keep in mind, not a word is wasted on the page so it's still good value. It would help to read book one beforehand but, as I hadn't even heard of Ernesto Mallo, I soon became bewitched, disregarded the references to the earlier book and now, most certainly, want to look out for book three.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although this is #2 in a trilogy involving Inspector Lascano, it didn't matter much that I'd missed the first part. Author Mallo gives you just enough background that you can make sense of his razor-edged narrative -- it would have been better to have read the three books in order but I started with this one and I'm glad that I didn't pass it by on the grounds that it was the middle episode. Each book obviously tells a complete tale, and 'Sweet Money' has a vey definite beginning, middle and end.

The prose is stylish, sharp and succinct. It took me a little while to get used to Mallo's habit of running all speech together in one great long paragraph (irritating, actually; a pointless piece of artistry), but that was the only downside. The writing is atmospheric; bitter at times, poignant and artful. Mallo treats his readers as if they are adults -- not all of the action takes place in front of us, and sometimes we're left to deduce what happened off stage. Key plot points are telegraphed... but not all of them unravel in the way you might expect.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the insight into Argentinian society in the years after military rule had ended, but when corruption and chaos were rife on the streets.

Will seek out the other books by this author. Definitely recommended for fans of Travis McGee, Andrew Vachss or Don Winslow. But this is not a 'cosy' kind of detective series which appens to be set in a sun-soaked paradise. It's of the gritty, urban ilk -- which means you can't expect to be particularly uplifted although the author does allow a glint of optimism to leech onto the horizon.

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VINE VOICEon 7 January 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I came to this book out of sequence as this is the second in a trilogy featuring Inspector Lascano. Whilst I would perhaps recommend that you follow the books in order if you can I should also say that not having read the first one didn't really make any difference to my enjoyment of this one and Sweet Money can definitely be read as a stand alone novel.

And it is an entertaining read.

It's tense, atmospheric and confident enough NOT to spell out absolutely everything that is of importance in the story to the reader and it does a good job of keeping you entertained as the story goes along and trying to work out what is coming next. It's certainly good enough to make me want to read the other books in the series.

I'm with some other readers though; the continuous speech presentation of the characters dialogue does take some getting used to and it seems to be a stylistic step too far for my liking.
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VINE VOICEon 10 June 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Another excellent addition to the ever wider cultural range of detective fiction.

Its not distinctively South American in flavour but perhaps that reflects the nature of Argentina, possibly the most European of the Latin American nations. The setting, just after the fall of Galtieri, and the style of writing also give it a fairly European feel, a little Spain at the same time, a little Eastern Europe at the end of the decade.

Triffic for eclectic readers of a certain age and triffic for their detective fiction loving wives!
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on 19 August 2011
This is the second Inspector Lascano novel, ('Needle in a Haystack' was the first set during the Dictatorship of the Generals). Argentina, 1980's the Junta has fallen and the power struggles between the bad cops, the men of the old regime and those hoping for a better more honest future is underway. Lascano is recovering from an attempt to kill him, he has many enemies but he also has a benefactor protecting him - Turcheli, soon to be the new police chief. He dreams of finding the girl he lost when he gets out of hospital, a reason for getting well. Meanwhile the power struggle within the police department results in the death of his guardian angel, Turcheli. Alone and hunted Lascano has to figure out his future and find his girl...
Lascano is a fine creation, this novel is a less dense read than the first but still builds the atmosphere or fear and corruption of the times, a picture of the Argentina/Buenos Aires featured at the heart of the novel. A dark book it is also witty and truthful and a worthy follow up. Very well translated, not always the case. The third part of the trilogy is eagerly anticipated by me.
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on 8 May 2012
Sweet Money is very much the second book in the Inspector Lascano trilogy and I would recommend reading Needle in a Haystack first. That said, this could be read as a standalone, and very good it is to. The story has a gritty realism, with some very nice prose and good dialogue. My sense is that the translator, Katherine Silver, has done an excellent job at keeping the richness of description in the text. The real strengths of the book are the character development, evocation of the history and politics of early 1980s Argentina, its very well developed sense of place, and the carefully structured and layered plotting. There are a couple of nice twists and turns and a couple of lovely sucker punches, especially the one at the end. Like the first book I found the continuous stream of dialogue, where the reader has to work out when one person has stopped talking and another started, and who is talking, a little bit too much unnecessary work. Other than that, which didn't really detract from the story itself, I really thought this was an excellent read.
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second book in the series and I wish I had read the first before this one. The author is trying to build up his characters and atmosphere and somehow I felt unsure about them in this work not having read the earlier book. Also, as others have said, the method of presenting continuous speech of the various participants takes some getting used to. Does all this detract from the storytelling - well yes, to some extent. So my advice would be to read the earlier book before this one if you want to get the full benefit of this author's style and abilities. I came away with that often-noted 'Chinese meal syndrome' - satisfied initially ... then feeling slightly empty.
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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed this read. I found it an engaging thriller that was fast-paced and easy to read. Much of the attraction lies in its Latin nature - passionate, fatalistic, symbolic and sexy.

The characters are believable and sympathetic. The main character, Lascano, is a moral, humane hero battling the corruption around him. It is not only a thriller but also a love story with a lot of twist and turns that take you unawares, especially the ending.

All in all, a really good read. The ending suggests there may be another novel to follow which I look forward to reading.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I just didn't like it. But that's not the book's fault. Argentina in the eighties, very taut writing about the difficulties and corruption. It might appeal to readers of Michael Connolly and the like, as it is dark and the main character complicated and not without his ghosts.

Sadly, I just didn't like it. Too dark, too gritty and dense dialogue.
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on 16 October 2011
A thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to the third run out of Inspector Lascano to come out in English. Excellent characters painted with an authentic brush that makes them entirely believable, credible action and a beautiful snapshot of Buenos Aires in the 1980s. Get working on the third translation !
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