Needle in a Hay Stack

Needle in a Hay Stack

3.1 332
by Ernesto Mallo
     
 

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"This is not simply a triumph of style; it is both a reflection on a time of bloodshed and a raw vision of human misery."—Guillermo Saccomanno, winner of the Argentine National Literature Prize

"This man knows. He knows about guns, knows about women, knows about dead bodies. . . . But above all he knows how to narrate."—Ana María Shua, author of

Overview

"This is not simply a triumph of style; it is both a reflection on a time of bloodshed and a raw vision of human misery."—Guillermo Saccomanno, winner of the Argentine National Literature Prize

"This man knows. He knows about guns, knows about women, knows about dead bodies. . . . But above all he knows how to narrate."—Ana María Shua, author of El peso de la tentación

Superintendent Lascano is a detective working under the shadow of military rule in Buenos Aires in the late 1970s. Sent to investigate a double murder, he arrives at the crime scene to find three bodies. Two are clearly the work of the Junta's death squads, murders he is forced to ignore; the other one seems different.

The trail leads Lascano through a decadent Argentina, a country poisoned to its core by the tyranny of the regime. The third corpse turns out to be that of Biterman, moneylender and Auschwitz survivor. When Lascano digs too deep, he must confront Giribaldi, an army major, quick to help old friends but ruthless in dealing with dissenters such as Eva, the young militant with whom Lascano is falling in love.

Born in 1948, Ernesto Mallo is a published essayist, newspaper columnist, screenwriter, and playwright. He is a former anti-Junta militant who was pursued by the dictatorship. Needle in a Hay Stack is his first novel and the first in a trilogy with superintendent Lascano. The first two are being made into films.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As a member of a guerrilla movement that opposed Argentina's dictatorship, Mallo brings authenticity to his gripping debut, set in 1979 during military rule of that country. Early one morning, Superintendent Lascano of the Buenos Aires police looks into a report that two bodies have been dumped on a river bank. Instead, he finds three corpses--a young man and young woman, whose obliterated features are consistent with an army hit, and a man around 60, his face intact. The older victim turns out to be Holocaust survivor and money lender Elías Biterman, whose profession and faith provide no shortage of enemies. While Mallo reveals the killer's identity well before the end, the book's power derives from his depiction of an honest cop trying to do his job when even a judge observes, "With so many corpses everywhere, why worry about one more?" Martin Cruz Smith and Philip Kerr fans will be rewarded. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In 1979 Buenos Aires, under duress by a military dictatorship, Superintendent Lascono investigates the dumping of three bodies on the side of a road. Two of the corpses show evidence of an army hit, but the third is identified as a Holocaust survivor and money lender. VERDICT Written by a former member of the anti-junta guerilla movement, this bleak crime novel depicts an oppressed country where depression rules everyday life. For readers who like their international mysteries very dark.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781904738565
Publisher:
Bitter Lemon Press, Ltd
Publication date:
09/01/2010
Series:
Inspector Lascano Mystery Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Ernesto Mallo: Born in 1948, Mallo is a published essayist, newspaper columnist, and playwright. He is a former militant, pursued by the dictatorship as a member of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias, which was later absorbed by the Montoneros guerilla movement. Needle in a Haystack is his first novel and the first in a trilogy with detective Lascano. The first two are being made into films in Argentina.

Jethro Soutar: Jethro Soutar, born in Sheffield, lives in London and has recently published two works of non-fiction, 'Ronaldinho: Football's Flamboyant Maestro' and a part biography, part chronicle of a film movement, entitled 'Gael García Bernal and the Latin American New Wave', published in July 2008. This is his first translation of fiction

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Needle in a Hay Stack 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 332 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The dialogue style alone ruins this book. You don't know how is speaking because the author crams it into one long paragraph. No breaks or quotations. It's written in italics with one sentence after another so you're always wondering who is speaking.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1976 in Buenos Aires, Police Superintendent "Perro" Lascano investigates a double homicide. When he arrives at the crime scene, he finds three corpses. Two of the bodies are dressed similar in jeans and polo neck shirts and have numerous bullet wounds, which is evidence that the Junta death squad executed the pair as they share responsibility in case of accountability. The third dead person is different as he is much older and wears a suit and tie; however, the biggest difference is he has one bullet wound. The cop is unauthorized to look into the political killings of the jean wearers as that is disallowed but he can investigate the dead suit. Lascano meets Eva, a dissident running from the Army. She looks like his late wife Marisa, who died in a car accident. He conceals Eva who gives him a reason to live as he has been despodent since Maria's death. Menwhile Lascano and his friend Fuseli the forensic pathologist identify the older victim as moneylender and Auschwitz survivor Elias Biterman. Lascano learns that Elias' younger brother Horacio introduced him to his decadent friend Amancio. The lender lent money to Amancio. Lascano thinks bankrupt Amancio is the killer or hired the killer, but needs to prove his assertion in a society in which no one seems to care. Ernesto Mallo uses the official police investigation to focus on the atrocities and moral rationalizations of those in charge. Readers will need to make a slight adjustment to the unusual technique of first person dialogue with no identification as to the speaker; a metaphor of death squads. Once the audience adapts, the story line is fast-paced throughout especially the climax. This is a strong historical that look s deeply at how society failed to protect its citizens especially the young. Harriet Klausner
salabat More than 1 year ago
The first chapter was a chore to read. The dialog is writen with both speakers lines running into each other in italics so you do not know who is speaking. With each sentence, you have to try and decide who is speaking even though you do not yet know much about the characters. When I got to chapter 2, I was grateful the book was free and went looking for something else less confusing to read. That being said, the story seemed like it could be good, it's just the translation was a little stiff and you couldn't understand who was talking.
jafrabonnie More than 1 year ago
this book is OK if you like foreign intrigue in a country overwhelmed with corruption, but I found it difficult to get involved, rather boring, too wordy, depressing. I would not read anything else by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Makes me thankful to live where I do and not there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know much about Argentina so I was very happy to see this was the free offering this week. I found it was a good opportunity to review a topic that is rarely discussed in our faux news culture. Sadly I found the story line predictable and the jammed up dialog hard to follow. I will probably read the sequel more for the historical content than story
mns4453 More than 1 year ago
As this is really not my passion in reading matter, it may not be fair for me to judge. However, as I am always open to test the waters on different genres, I try to give it a fair shot. The story line was ok, but the run-on conversation paragraphs required more attention to what was being said and by whom than I like to spend. Good luck to him in his future attempts.
kath3k More than 1 year ago
The book was OK , but seemed to have too many little stories within the big story. The author made it somewhat hard to follow by changing characters within the same sentence with no indication that the character was going to change.
Ecolu More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book with an insight to both human nature. Against a culture of corruption, it is the story of one man's struggle to do what is right. A good read.
TwinsDad9901 More than 1 year ago
This is a crime mystery set in 1979 Argentina. The police detective, "Perra" Lescano, is sent to investigate a double murder. When he got to the scene, though, there are three bodies. Two are obviously the work of the Junta death squads. The third led to an interesting and dangerous investigation. The basic story was good, but several points were distracting. When there was a dialogue, all of it was in italics and run together; it was difficult to know who said what. The timeline of the story jumped around a bit so that you weren't sure of when you are in the story. It does provide some insight into the history of Argentina. Once I got the dialogue system figured out, I did like the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't see any plot developing, very slow moving story. Wasn't able to stay with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very slow to develop; conversations are lumped together into one italized mess.
the_curious_reader More than 1 year ago
Needle in a Haystack is so much more than a detective murder mystery. Lessons from Argentina's modern political history apply universally and form the backdrop of this book, which is more than genre fiction in both style and substance. The undesignated dialogues have a quality not unlike a Greed chorus, forcing the attentive observer to slow down and reflect not just on what is happening but why. While the story moves quickly, it contains so much more than just a fast thrill ride, and those who prefer reading for escape might want to try elsewhere. For those who are willing to take on brisk and choppy water, dive right in for an invigorating swim.
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I couldn't get into it. Seemed like it was going no where so put it in the archives.
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