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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder mystery in which a whole nation is guilty, 29 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Death in the Andes (Paperback)
`DITA' is a wonderful book, skilfully blending an intriguing story with an examination of Peru's history and culture. Some of the reviewers below write that they read this book before or during travelling in Peru. Although the story is bleak and disturbing, I can see how `DITA' evokes a Peru that you wouldn't find in the pages of a travel brochure. In this book, Llosa has created a murder mystery in which the history and culture of a whole country is the killer.

The story is that of two policemen (Lituma and Carreno), who find themselves in a remote Andean mining town (Naccos) investigating the disappearance of three local men. The two policeman are outsiders, mistrusted by the mostly native population of Naccos. The hills are crawling with Senderistas, members of the brutal Shining Path terrorist group, who are murdering everyone not conforming to their way of life. Many of the locals believe that the hills also contain other, more ethereal dangers, such as pishtacos (vampire-like creatures) and the apus, spirits trapped in each peak which send down landslides to punish wayward towns. The people of Naccos are trapped between these forces, and the town is often compared to a jail. These factors conspire to cause the disappearance of the three men, and Lituma and Carreno must first come to understand their native country before they can hope to solve the crime.

Although the story is bleak, with acts of unspeakable violence and an air of depression hanging over Naccos, Lituma and Carreno are engaging characters who keep the book going. The former has a an ever-present sense of (albeit black) humour and the latter keeps Lituma (and the reader) entertained with his tales of his first love. The book also has an upbeat ending, of sorts, leading the reader to think that although Llosa can see faults with his Peru, he also thinks that it isn't a wholly terrible place. Few books have such a strong sense of place as `DITA', and few combine such a gripping storyline with a snapshot of a nation as a whole as successfully. It is simultaneously a deep and an easy read, and, if you can stomach the violence, a highly recommended book.
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Location: London, UK

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