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Discriminating general readers as well as whodunit fans will enjoy this outstanding puzzler, winner of the first Casa de las Américas prize for best Latin American novel. Argentine author De Santis conjures up a veritable Justice League of 19th-century master sleuths-the 12 Detectives-who meet for the first time in Paris, at the 1889 World's Fair. Argentine Sigmundo Salvatrio, loyal assistant to founding member Renaldo Craig, represents the absent Craig. When Louis Darbon, one of two claimants among the 12 for the title of Detective of Paris, falls to his death from the Eiffel Tower shortly before the fair's opening, Darbon's rival, Polish expatriate Viktor Arkazy, takes Salvatrio on as his apprentice, and the pair struggle to solve the mystery before more victims are claimed. De Santis adroitly explores such issues as the difference between image and reality while providing intelligent and entertaining discussions of alternate approaches to detection. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.