A Colombian-born writer based in Mexico City, Vallejo received considerable worldwide recognition when his last novel, La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assasins was made into a film by the acclaimed Barbet Schroeder. Just as dark as La virgen, this semi-autobiographical novel is set in the author's native city, Medell!n. The narrator (called Vallejo) returns home after a prolonged absence to attend to his most beloved brother, Dario, an AIDS patient whose health is slowly deteriorating owing to his alcohol and marijuana use. Vallejo indulges in digressions into past memories that they both share, which include endless adolescent partying and homosexual love affairs. La Muerte (Death), the character around whom the narrative ultimately revolves, appears throughout, touching different members of Vallejo's family and finally becoming his worst enemy. In this brutal and irreverent critique of Medell!n's violent society, Colombian politicians, the pope, and Catholicism, Vallejo is just as hard on the women around him, including his mother. But in the end, he is also hard on himself, for when Death makes a triumphant exit Vallejo is left with a profound feeling of impotence and frustration. To this pessimistic tone, the author adds a cruel yet subtle black humor that evokes spontaneous laughter and allows readers to greatly enjoy this gripping and harshly honest story. Recommended for both public and academic libraries and for book markets catering to Colombian patrons. Fernando Zapata, New York City Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.