Queen of the South [NOOK Book]


Few authors inspire the kind of passion that Arturo Pérez-Reverte does. Reviewers, readers, and booksellers alike have embraced his fiction as the perfect blend of suspense and literary ambition. A global bestseller, he is one of the most admired and widely read authors in the world. And his stunning new novel is his best yet.

A remarkable tale, The Queen of the South spans continents, from the dusty streets of Mexico to the sparkling waters ...
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Queen of the South

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Few authors inspire the kind of passion that Arturo Pérez-Reverte does. Reviewers, readers, and booksellers alike have embraced his fiction as the perfect blend of suspense and literary ambition. A global bestseller, he is one of the most admired and widely read authors in the world. And his stunning new novel is his best yet.

A remarkable tale, The Queen of the South spans continents, from the dusty streets of Mexico to the sparkling waters off the coast of Morocco, to Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar. A sweeping story set to the irresistible beat of the drug smugglers' ballads, it encompasses sensuality and cruelty, love and betrayal, as its heroine's story unfolds.

Teresa Mendoza's boyfriend is a drug smuggler who the narcos of Sinaloa, Mexico, call "the king of the short runway," because he can get a plane full of coke off the ground in three hundred yards. But in a ruthless business, life can be short, and Teresa even has a special cell phone that Guero gave her along with a dark warning. If that phone rings, it means he's dead, and she'd better run, because they're coming for her next.

Then the call comes.

In order to survive, she will have to say goodbye to the old Teresa, an innocent girl who once entrusted her life to a pinche narco smuggler. She will have to find inside herself a woman who is tough enough to inhabit a world as ugly and dangerous as that of the narcos-a woman she never before knew existed. Indeed, the woman who emerges will surprise even those who know her legend, that of the Queen of the South.


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Internationally acclaimed writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte, author of The Club Dumas, has crafted another intense, dramatic, literary suspense tale. Teresa Mendoza's boyfriend, Güero, might be known as "the king of the short runway" because of his talent for getting drug-laden small planes in and out of incredibly small spaces. But Teresa seemed destined to never to be queen of anything. Life with Güero offered passion, excitement, and a way out of poverty…but it also carried with it the inescapable prospect of danger. Teresa knew Güero relished the risks of his job. He even raised the stakes by skimming extra profits off the drug lords he worked for. That's why he gave Teresa a cell phone that would only ring only if he was dead…a clear signal to Teresa that she was next on the list. When that phone rings, Teresa runs for her life, hoping the world will be big enough to hide her. So begins a journey that will transform this innocent barrio beauty into a woman who is tough and powerful enough to make her own rules -- the woman known as the Queen of the South. Sue Stone
Jonathan Yardley
The Queen of the South is complicated, lively and, in its depiction of the drug trade and those who run it, convincing. Pérez-Reverte doesn't wince from tough, nasty business. He's an ace at chase scenes -- the one in which Teresa and Santiago crash at 50 knots into an unforgiving rock is especially vivid -- and the shootout at the novel's climax could be right out of Sam Peckinpah, blood and guts spattered all over the place. Pérez-Reverte knows his stuff, and brings all of it to life.
The Washington Post
A thriller with an almost meditative tone, the novel's energy comes not only from the action scenes but also from the monologues in which Mendoza struggles with the multiple contradictions in her life... Readers... will be drawn in by the author's remarkable eloquence and ability to plumb the recesses of a character's psyche.
A first-rate novel, magnificent in scope and gracefully written and so remarkably real, so tragically doomed, so mysteriously complex that one will be left wondering where Teresa is today.
Mesmerizing... that rare blessing, a book by a mature writer at the top of his game...You are inexorably drawn into Teresa's world
USA Today
Recommended Summer Reading: "[An] erudite thriller" from "the acclaimed author of The Club Dumas.
The Wall Street Journal
Recommended Summer Reading: "It's John Le Carre meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez...Perez-Reverte has a huge following ... and it's spreading.
St Louis Today
Here is a novel with fast paced action, psychological intrigue and philosophical musings... Vividly depicted... it feels real.
Washington Post Book World
Full-speed-ahead narrative, outsized characters, and a degree of intellectual seriousnous not ordinarily associated with bestseller list fiction...he puts his reporters skills to work in the accumulation of intricate detail and the evocation of exotic cities and landscapes. His work is a great deal of fun to read and offers the bonus of substance as well as style... The Queen of the South is complicated, lively and... convincing.... Perez Reverte is an ace at chase scenes...knows his stuff, and brings all of it to life.
The Denver Post
It's a rare novelist who can create a literary page-turner. Arturo Perez-Reverte is one of these rarities. His latest novel combines a heart-stopping narrative with fully realized characters, and the result will satisfy the author's fans and newcomers alike.... Perez Reverte is an ace storyteller... he steps out in front of the crowd of coming thrillers with this page-turner with heft.
Entertainment Weekly
Perez Reverte's literary thriller explodes with history, heartbreak [and] determination....An epic suspense story of heart and grit... The prose is as rich and dense as a flourless chocolate cake.
Publishers Weekly
Readers of Perez-Reverte's sixth thriller won't be able to turn the pages fast enough: the author of The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion and other literary adventure novels now tackles the gritty world of drug trafficking in Mexico, southern Spain and Morocco, offering a frightening, fascinating look at the international business of transporting cocaine and hashish as well as a portrait of a smart, fast, daring and lucky woman, Teresa Mendoza. As the novel opens, Teresa's phone rings. She doesn't have to answer it: the phone is a special one given to her by her boyfriend, drug runner and expert Cessna pilot Guero Davila. He has warned her that if a call ever came, it meant he was dead, and that she had to run for her own life. On the lam, Teresa leaves Mexico for Morocco, where she keeps a low profile transporting drug shipments with her new lover. But after a terrible accident and a brief stint in prison, Teresa's on her own again. She manages to find her way, but Teresa is no mere survivor: gaining knowledge in every endeavor she becomes involved in and using her own head for numbers and brilliant intuition, she eventually winds up heading one of the biggest drug traffic rings in the Mediterranean. Spanning 12 years and introducing a host of intriguing, scary characters, from Teresa's drug-addicted prison comrade to her former assassin turned bodyguard, the novel tells the gripping tale of "a woman thriving in a world of dangerous men." Agent, Howard Morhaim. (June) Forecast: Like Perez-Reverte's previous novels, this one is an international bestseller. It should hit big here too, released in a 100,000 printing and backed by an author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This spellbinding thriller describes the cocaine trafficking adventures of Teresa Mendoza from her home in Sinaloa, Mexico, to Cadiz, Spain, and beyond as she passes from being the naive companion of a Mexican cartelero ("drug trafficker") to a merciless gang leader of international repute. Acclaimed author Perez-Reverte became one of Spain's most-translated contemporary writers with such best-selling historical thrillers as La tabla de Flandes (The Flanders Panel, Debolsillo, 2000) and El club Dumas (The Club Dumas, Suma de Letras, 2000). Unlike his previous historical novels, this saga is set in the present and features a female protagonist. As Teresa escapes from the Mexican drug lords and enters the Spanish drug scene, she is raped and imprisoned, has recurrent confrontations with the law, and partners with Russian mafiosi. Readers will sympathize with her ability to overcome abuse and her courage as she manages to enter and control the male-dominated world of drug trafficking. Once again, Perez-Reverte excels in his meticulous research, successfully recreating the language, music, and cultural codes that characterize this illegal business in both Mexico and Spain. The novel is chock-full of references to Mexican narcorrorridos ("Mexican drug ballads"), as well as to crime lore on both sides of the Atlantic. This is also a linguistic experiment, as Perez-Reverte masterfully adopts a Mexican dialect throughout. Already a best seller in Spain, Mexico, and the United States, this novel is highly recommended for all bookstores, and for academic and public libraries. -Ilan Stavans, Amherst College, MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Perez-Reverte presents another action-packed thriller that will help solidify his reputation in that genre. In the seamy world of Mexican and Spanish drug dealers, Teresa Mendoza, the novel's eponymous heroine, quickly rises from mere dealer's moll to the peak of her own cartel, surviving the murder of two boyfriends, a stint in prison, and the opposition, both licit and illicit. She is, after all, "a woman thriving in a world of dangerous men" and, it must be said, one whom the reader admires and respects but doesn't really like. Perez-Reverte has obviously researched this subject well and relies on his storytelling wits, throwing out a series of twists, double-crossings, agents provocateurs, and revenge plots. The fast-paced narrative is interrupted occasionally by the commentary of the "narrator," allegedly gathering information for this notorious woman's biography, a metafictional device of which the author fails to take full advantage. First-time readers may wonder what all the fuss is about, since the novel fails to transcend an exciting but basically hollow tale; fans will be surprised that the intellectual ingenuity characteristic of earlier efforts (The Club Dumas) is conspicuously absent in a work one would not expect from a newly elected member of the Royal Spanish Academy. Perez-Reverte's reputation, however, makes this a required addition to public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/04.]-Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The perilous arc of a powerful woman druglord's career, painstakingly traced by the Spanish author of such brainteasing thrillers as The Club Dumas (1998) and The Seville Communion (1999). Perez-Reverte's sixth is a dual narrative in which we observe Mexicana Teresa Mendoza's rise to power after the death of her drug-running pilot boyfriend Guero Davila, and also receive summaries of her progress from an unnamed journalist who's interviewing both her former criminal contacts and law enforcement officers who spent 12 years pursuing her. It all moves much too slowly, because Perez-Reverte's obviously thorough researches betray him into an almost encyclopedic disclosure of exactly how the international drug trade operates-and because Teresa's successive accomplices and lovers are thinly sketched, scarcely characterized at all. This is unfortunate, since there's considerable dramatic potential in such vividly conceived figures as courtly "narco" godfather Epifanio Vargas, freelance drug-runner Santiago Fisterra (who supplants the late Guero in Teresa's bed), Teresa's bisexual prison cellmate and later partner Patricia O'Farrell, and criminous attorney (and Teresa's next lover) Teo Aljarafe. "La Mexicana" (a.k.a. The Queen of the South) herself is fairly opaque, her strength and resolve asserted rather than dramatized. And Perez-Reverte skirts absurdity by charting her development into a passionate reader, beginning with her jail-time immersion in The Count of Monte Cristo ("Edmond Dantes is me"). The action, fairly generic, moves from Mexico to Spain's southern coast, the Strait of Gibraltar, and Morocco, peaking in a dangerous episode in the Black Sea. Still, Perez-Reverte comes through witha smashing climax in which Teresa learns the truth about Guero, faces down the elusive Don Epifanio, and puts her own spin on her deal with USDEA officials ("Cooperation in exchange for immunity"). Too little, too late. Perez-Reverte at his best is a matchless entertainer. But this, his weakest novel, is a major disappointment. First printing of 100,000; author tour
From the Publisher
“John Le Carre meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez…Pérez-Reverte has a huge following…and it’s spreading.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A modern-day epic…bearing the unmistakable ring of authenticity and a slam-bang narrative sure to resonate with legions of appreciative readers…All the core elements, after all, are here: love, violence, betrayal and honor.” —Los Angeles Times

 “The Da Vinci Code and The Rule of Four…pale in comparison with Pérez-Reverte novels…Pérez-Reverte shines in some white-knuckles action sequences…but his greatest triumph is [his] heroine.” —Time Out New York

“Pérez-Reverte’s literary thriller explodes with history, heartbreak [and] determination…An epic suspense story of heart and grit.” —Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440684821
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/31/2005
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 167,243
  • File size: 583 KB

Meet the Author

Arturo Perez-Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war correspondent, he now writes fiction full-time. His novels include The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, The Fencing Master, The Seville Communion, The Nautical Chart, and The Queen of the South. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.
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Read an Excerpt

The Queen of the South

By Arturo Pérez-Reverte

G. P. Putnam's Suns

Copyright © 2002 Arturo Pérez-Reverte
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-399-15185-0

Chapter One

I fell off the cloud I was riding

I always thought that those narcocorridos about Mexican drug runners were just songs, and that The Count of Monte Cristo was just a novel. I mentioned this to Teresa Mendoza that last day, when (surrounded by bodyguards and police) she agreed to meet me in the house she was staying in at the time, in Colonia Chapultepec, in the town of Culiacan, state of Sinaloa, Mexico. I mentioned Edmond Dantès, asking if she'd read the novel, and she gave me a look so long and so silent that I feared our conversation would end right there. Then she turned toward the rain that was pittering against the windows, and I don't know whether it was something in the gray light from outside or an absentminded smile, but whatever it was, it left a strange, cruel shadow on her lips.

"I don't read books," she said.

I knew she was lying, as no doubt she'd lied countless times over the last twelve years. But I didn't want to insist, so I changed the subject. I'd tracked her across three continents for the last eight months, and her long journey out and back again was much more interesting to me than the books she'd read.

To say I was disappointed would not be quite accurate-reality often pales in comparison with legends. So in my profession the word "disappointment" is always relative-reality and legend are just the raw materials of my work. The problem is that it's impossible to live for weeks and months obsessed with someone without creating for yourself a definite, and invariably inaccurate, idea of the subject in question-an idea that sets up housekeeping in your head with such strength and verisimilitude that after a while it's hard, maybe even unnecessary, to change its basic outline. We writers are privileged: readers take on our point of view with surprising ease. Which was why that rainy morning in Culiacan, I knew that the woman sitting before me would never be the real Teresa Mendoza, but another woman who was taking her place, and who was, at least in part, created by me. This was a woman whose history I had reconstructed piece by piece, incomplete and contradictory, from people who'd known her, hated her, and loved her.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

"I'm still lacking one episode of your life. The most important one."

"Hm. One 'episode.'"


She'd picked up a pack of Faros from the table and was holding a plastic lighter, a cheap one, to a cigarette, after first making a gesture to stop the man sitting at the other end of the room, who was lumbering to his feet solicitously, left hand in his jacket pocket. He was an older guy, stout-even fat-with very black hair and a bushy Mexican moustache.

"The most important one?"

She put the cigarettes and the lighter back down on the table, perfectly symmetrically, without offering me one. Which didn't matter to me one way or the other, since I don't smoke. There were several other packs there, too, an ashtray, and a pistol.

"It must be," she added, "if you're here today. Must be really important."

I looked at the pistol. A SIG-Sauer. Swiss. Fifteen 9-millimeter cartridges per clip, in three neat staggered rows. And three full clips. The gold-colored tips of the bullets were as thick as acorns.

"Yes" I answered coolly. "Twelve years ago. Sinaloa."

Again the contemplative silence. She knew about me, because in her world, knowledge could be bought. And besides, three weeks earlier I'd sent her a copy of my unfinished piece. It was the bait. The letter of introduction so I could get what I needed and finish the story off.

"Why should I tell you about that?"

"Because I've gone to a lot of trouble over you."

She was looking at me through the cigarette smoke, her eyes slightly Mongolian, somehow, like the masks at the Templo Mayor. She got up and went over to the bar and came back with a bottle of Herradura Reposado and two small, narrow glasses, the ones the Mexicans call caballitos, "little horses." She was wearing comfortable dark linen pants, a black blouse, and sandals, and I noticed that she was wearing no diamonds, no stones of any kind, no gold chain around her neck, no watch-just a silver semanario on her right wrist, the seven silver bangles I'd learned she always wore. Two years earlier-the press clippings were in my room at the Hotel San Marcos-the Spanish society magazine ¡Hola! had included her among the twenty most elegant women in Spain. At about the same time, El Mundo ran a story about the latest police investigation into her business dealings on the Costa del Sol and her links with drug traffickers. In the photo, published on page one, you could see her in a car with the windows rolled up partway, protected from reporters by several bodyguards in dark glasses. One of them was the heavyset guy with the moustache who was sitting at the other end of the room now, looking at me as though he weren't looking at me.

"A lot of trouble," she repeated pensively, pouring tequila into the glasses.


She sipped at it, standing up, never taking her eyes off me. She was shorter than she looked in photos or on television, but her movements were still calm and self-assured-each gesture linked to the next naturally, as though there were no possibility of improvisation or doubt. Maybe she never has any doubts about anything anymore, I suddenly thought. At thirty-five, she was still vaguely attractive. Less, perhaps, than in recent photographs and others I'd seen here and there, kept by people who'd known her on the other side of the Atlantic. That included her profile in black-and-white on an old mugshot in police headquarters in Algeciras. And videotapes, too, jerky images that always ended with big gruff gorillas entering the frame to shove the lens aside. But in all of them she was indisputably Teresa, with the same distinguished appearance she presented now-wearing dark clothes and sunglasses, getting into expensive automobiles, stepping out onto a terrace in Marbella, sunbathing on the deck of a yacht as white as snow, blurred by the telephoto lens: it was the Queen of the South and her legend. The woman who appeared on the society pages the same week she turned up in the newspapers' police blotter.

But there was another photo whose existence I knew nothing about, and before I left that house, two hours later, Teresa Mendoza unexpectedly decided to show it to me: a snapshot wrinkled and falling apart, its pieces held together with tape crisscrossing the back. She laid it on the table with the full ashtray and the bottle of tequila of which she herself had drunk two-thirds and the SIG-Sauer with the three clips lying there like an omen-in fact, a fatalistic acceptance-of what was going to happen that night.

As for that last photo, it really was the oldest of all the photos ever taken of her, and it was just half a photo, because the whole left side was missing. You could see a man's arm in the sleeve of a leather aviator jacket over the shoulders of a thin, dark-skinned young woman with full black hair and big eyes. The young woman was in her early twenties, wearing very tight pants and an ugly denim jacket with a lambskin collar. She was facing the camera with an indecisive look about halfway down the road toward a smile, or maybe on the way back. Despite the vulgar, excessive makeup, the dark eyes had a look of innocence, or a vulnerability that accentuated the youthfulness of the oval face, the eyes slightly upturned into almondlike points, the very precise mouth, the ancient, adulterated drops of indigenous blood manifesting themselves in the nose, the matte texture of the skin, the arrogance of the uplifted chin. The young woman in this picture was not beautiful, but she was striking, I thought. Her beauty was incomplete, or distant, as though it had been growing thinner and thinner, more and more diluted, down through the generations, until finally what was left were isolated traces of an ancient splendor. And then there was that serene-or perhaps simply trusting-fragility. Had I not been familiar with the person, that fragility would have made me feel tender toward her. I suppose.

"I hardly recognize you."

It was the truth, and I told it. She didn't seem to mind the remark; she just looked at the snapshot on the table. And she sat there like that for a long time.

"Me, either," she finally said.

Then she put the photo away again-first in a leather wallet with her initials, then in the purse that was lying on the couch-and gestured toward the door. "I think that's enough," she said.

She looked very tired. The long conversation, the tobacco, the bottle of tequila. She had dark circles under her eyes, which no longer resembled the eyes in the old snapshot. I stood up, buttoned my jacket, put out my hand-she barely brushed it-and glanced again at the pistol. The fat guy from the other end of the room was beside me, indifferent, ready to see me out. I looked down, intrigued, at his splendid iguana-skin boots, the belly that spilled over his handworked belt, the menacing bulge under his denim jacket. When he opened the door, I saw that what I took as fat maybe wasn't, and that he did everything with his left hand. Obviously his right hand was reserved as a tool of his trade.

"I hope it turns out all right," I said.

She followed my gaze to the pistol. She nodded slowly, but not at my words. She was occupied with her own thoughts.

"Sure," she muttered.

Then I left. The same Federales with their bulletproof vests and assault weapons who had frisked me from head to toe when I came in were standing guard in the entry and the front garden as I walked out. A military jeep and two police Harley-Davidsons were parked next to the circular fountain in the driveway. Five or six journalists and a TV camera were under a canopy outside the high walls, in the street: they were being kept at a distance by soldiers in combat fatigues who were cordoning off the grounds of the big house. I turned to the right and walked through the rain toward the taxi that was waiting for me a block away, on the corner of Calle General Anaya.

Now I knew everything I needed to know, the dark corners had been illuminated, and every piece of the history of Teresa Mendoza, real or imagined, now fit: from that first photograph, or half-photograph, to the woman I'd just talked to, the woman who had an automatic lying out on the table.

The only thing lacking was the ending, but I would have that, too, in a few hours. Like her, all I had to do was sit and wait.

Twelve years had passed since the afternoon in the city of Culiacan when Teresa Mendoza started running. On that day, the beginning of a long round-trip journey, the rational world she thought she had built in the shadow of Güero Davila came crashing down around her, and she suddenly found herself lost and in danger.

She had put down the phone and sat for a few seconds in cold terror. Then she began to pace back and forth across the room, opening drawers at random, blind with panic, knowing she needed a bag to carry the few things she needed for her escape, unable at first to find one. She wanted to weep for her man, or scream until her throat was raw, but the terror that was washing over her, battering her like waves, numbed her emotions and her ability to act. It was as if she had eaten a mushroom from Huautla or smoked a dense, lung-burning joint, and been transported into some distant body she had no control over.

Blindly, numbly, after clumsily but quickly pulling on clothes-some jeans, a T-shirt, and shoes-she stumbled down the stairs, her hair wet, her body still damp under her clothing, carrying a little gym bag with the few things she had managed to gather and stuff inside: more T-shirts, a denim jacket, panties, socks, her purse with two hundred pesos. They would be on their way to the apartment already, Güero had warned her. They'd go to see what they could find. And he did not want them to find her.

Before she stepped outside the gate, she paused and looked out, up and down the street, indecisively, with the instinctive caution of the prey that catches the scent of the hunter and his dogs nearby. Before her lay the complex urban topography of a hostile territory. Colonia las Quintas: broad streets, discreet, comfortable houses with bougainvillea everywhere and good cars parked in front. A long way from the miserable barrio of Las Siete Gotas, she thought. And suddenly, the lady in the drugstore across the street, the old man in the corner grocery where she had shopped for the last two years, the bank guard with his blue uniform and twelve-gauge double-barreled shotgun on his shoulder-the very guard who would always smile, or actually, leer, at her when she passed-now looked dangerous to her, ready to pounce. There won't be any more friends anymore, Güero had said offhandedly, with that lazy smile of his that she sometimes loved, and other times hated with all her heart. The day the telephone rings and you take off running, you'll be alone, prietita. And I won't be around to help.

She clutched the gym bag to her body, as though to protect her most intimate parts, and she walled down the street with her head lowered, not looking at anything or anybody, trying at first not to hurry, to keep her steps slow. The sun was beginning to set over the Pacific, twenty-five miles to the west, toward Altata, and the palm, manzanita, and mango trees of the avenue stood out against a sky that would soon turn the orange color typical of Culiacan sunsets. She realized that there was a thumping in her ears-a dull, monotonous throbbing superimposed on the noise of traffic and the clicking of her own footsteps. If someone had called out to her at that moment, she wouldn't have been able to hear her name, or even, perhaps, the sound of the gunshot.

The gunshot. Waiting for it, expecting it with such certainty-her muscles tense, her neck stiff and bowed, her head down-that her back and kidneys ached. This was The Situation. Sitting in bars, among the drinks and cigarette smoke, she'd all too often heard this theory of disaster-discussed apparently only half jokingly-and it was burned into her brain as if with a branding iron. In this business, Güero had said, you've got to know how to recognize The Situation. Somebody can come over and say Buenos días. Maybe you even know him, and he'll smile at you. Easy. Smooth as butter. But you'll notice something strange, a feeling you can't quite put your finger on, like something's just this much out of place-his fingers practically touching. And a second later, you're a dead man-Güero would point his finger at Teresa like a revolver, as their friends laughed-or woman.


Excerpted from The Queen of the South by Arturo Pérez-Reverte Copyright © 2002 by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

Teresa Mendoza’s boyfriend is a pilot the narcos of Sinaloa, Mexico, call “the king of the short runway,” because he can get a plane full of cocaine off the ground in three hundred yards. But in a ruthless business, life is often short, and Teresa has a special cell phone that Güero gave her, along with a dark warning: If that phone rings, it means he’s dead, and she’d better run because they’re coming to kill her next.

And then the call comes.

To survive, she will have to say goodbye to the old Teresa, an innocent girl who entrusted her life to a pinche narco smuggler. She will have to find inside herself a woman tough enough to leave her entire life—and her country—behind, and to start over again in a world as dangerous and ugly as the world of the narcos. And the strength of the woman who emerges will surprise even those who know her legend, that of the Queen of the South.


Arturo Pérez-Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war correspondent, he now writes fiction full-time. His novels include The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, The Fencing Master, The Seville Communion, The Nautical Chart, and The Queen of the South. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.


  • Why is Teresa involved with Güero, given the obvious danger of their relationship? In the opening pages of the book, how did you see Teresa? Did she seem innocent and naïve, or strong enough to cope with Güero’s warnings? How did she surprise you?
  • Discuss this passage from the conclusion of Teresa’s first meeting with don Epifanio: “Teresita Mendoza. Chale.Güero’s morra. A narco’s old lady. A girl like so many others—quieter, even, than most, not too bright, not too pretty. And yet that smile made him study her thoughtfully, cautiously, with a great deal of attention, as though suddenly a stranger stood before him” (p. 53). Does Teresa change in this moment? Is she a stranger? In what ways is she a stranger to don Epifanio? To herself?
  • After she leaves Mexico, Teresa lives quietly in Melilla, keeping to herself, until she meets Santiago Fisterra. What about Santiago is attractive to Teresa? Why does she go back to the life of a smuggler’s girlfriend? And then, why does she insist on being part of the smuggling operation?
  • Discuss Teresa’s photo. Originally, it is a photo of herself and Güero. Why does she burn Güero’s half of the picture and save her own? What does the photo represent to her?
  • Is Teresa’s relationship with Patty more important to her than her relationships with men? How does Patty’s friendship change Teresa, both physically and mentally?
  • Teresa and Patty often compare their relationship to that of Edmund Dantes and the abbé in The Count of Monte Cristo. Is this accurate? How are the relationships similar? How are they different? In what ways is Teresa, like Dantes, motivated by revenge? What motivates Patty?
  • Right before Teresa and Patty go to the cave to find the hidden cocaine, “Teresa saw in a kind of flash that Patty was perhaps not the stronger of the two” (p. 206). What brings on this epiphany? Is it true? How does it change their relationship?
  • How does Teresa’s physical transformation change her? What does bettering her physical appearance and improving her mind through reading bring to Teresa? Why does Patty encourage it?
  • Discuss the following passage: “Teresa even came to wonder to what extent Patty had sacrificed herself to fate, like a woman accepting the tarot cards that she herself turns up. To what degree had Patty foreseen, or even fostered, many of the things that eventually occurred between the two of them, Teresa and Teo Aljarafe? And thus, in a way, among the three of them.” Ultimately, what does Patty sacrifice? And, in the ends, does Patty let Teresa down, or the other way around?
  • Why does Teresa spare Pinto’s life? Why is he so loyal to her afterward? Discuss some of the ways Teresa’s “code of honor” differs from others in her business.
  • Why do you think Teresa chooses to keep the baby? And why doesn’t she tell Teo that she’s pregnant? Do you think she would have made a different decision if she didn’t have to kill Teo?
  • Why does Teresa meet with don Epifanio when she returns to Mexico? Does she owe him an explanation? Does she gain closure from the meeting?
  • Do you sympathize with Teresa? Why or why not? In what way is she a victim of Güero’s life and death? Do you think she would be a sympathetic character if she were a man?
  • Discuss the narrator’s interviews throughout the novel. How do the descriptions of Teresa change as he digs further into her life? Are the interviewees’ impressions of Teresa in line with the real Teresa?
  • Why does Teresa become the legendary Queen of the South? Why are so many people, including the narrator, fixated by her?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 8, 2011

    A must read!

    The Queen Of The South by Teresa Mendoza isa gripping story about a girl picked up off the streets into the heart of power. She loved, lost, and the pattern repeated just when you thought she was home free. On a warm day in Sinaloa, Mexico, a cell phone rings and wakes her up from her fairytale. With the help of unlikely companions and incompassionate lovers, she makes her way to top while her world turns upside down. They got her lover, then they came after her too. The drug trade and its connections throughout Mexico, Latin America, and the Mediterranean come alive. Flashing back to her earlier life, the novel reveals Teresa as an uneducated but attractive twenty-three-year-old in Mexico, in love with Guero Davila, a Chicano pilot from San Antonio involved in shipping coca. Working through a cartel enjoying the complicity of the police, the Ministry of Defense, and even the President of the Republic, Guero is known as "the king of the short runway," a pilot able to drop from the skies, make a pickup or a connection, and be gone almost instantly. Guero had always told her, "If this [phone] ever rings, it's because I'm dead. So run. As far and as fast as you can, prietita¿And don't stop, because I won't be there anymore to help you." When she suddenly gets the call, she follows Guero's instructions to the letter, racing to deliver important papers to Don Epifanio Vargas, in exchange for her life, and running, with Vargas's help, through Mexico City into Spain. I would reccomend this amazing book to anyone who loves to read. When she suddenly gets the call, she follows Guero's instructions to the letter, racing to deliver important papers to Don Epifanio Vargas, in exchange for her life, and running, through Mexico City into Spain. The way Teresa relates to topics really engaged me and I could defiantly relate.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Amazing book!

    I decided to read this after watching the series on TV, and the book was very good! It's definitely worth reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2007

    This book gets amazingly good the last 100 pages!!!

    The theme of the book centers on how the main character Teresa Mendoza must run for her life in order to survive. She must become someone new, someone who has the strength and the will to make her way to the top in a world mainly occupied by dangerous men. The story begins in the town of Cualican, state of Sinaloa, in Mexico, when Teresa receives that ominous phone call: her boyfriend Guero Davila, pilot for the drug narcos, has been killed and she had better start running of she¿ll be next. With the help of a friend Teresa ends up in Spain. Throughout the first 300 pages there is a strong sense of how Teresa manages to find the will to survive through all that¿s happened to her. It is clearly depicted how she manages to keep going even through all the pain that has entered her life and which she keeps within herself. It is unclear whether Teresa saw herself developing into many different women or just one strong woman managing to persevere with her life. In Spain Teresa rises to the top as she sets up the largest transport system of drugs in the Gibraltar Straight. As people became dependent on her, her many names included Queen of the South, La Mexicana, Queen of the Drug Trafficking Straight, and Czarina of Drugs. In other words, in a world of men Teresa became the Queen. She infiltrated society, paying people off and understanding the certain rules and codes to the entire trade which can never be conceived unless you are a part of the business. When Teresa first arrived in Spain she was the soft spoken, observant, worldly, and independent with her prim Mexican accent. As Teresa becomes stronger she looks to herself and her future as being independent and without men. After looking back on her life and past dependencies she begins not to hope, not to dream, and not to trust because it makes you vulnerable. I enjoyed this book immensely for many reasons. The book did ramble a bit for the first 300 pages but then the last 100 became significantly exciting. There was no doubt that the story was full of mystery with unimaginable twists and turns everywhere: ¿As he walked away, he added, `Then there¿s the mystery right? ... What happened at the end with O¿Farrell and with the lawyer¿. [...] `What happened with all of them¿.¿ (p.292). As you progress through the book you learn that anything is possible: ¿ `In fourteen or sixteen hours a lot of things can happen...¿ ¿ (p.416). I loved how there was a lot of foreshadowing throughout the entire book. There first few pages were definitely no disappointment: ¿[...] and the SIG-Saucer with the three clips lying there like an omen-in fact, a fatalistic acceptance-of what was going to happen that night.¿ (p.8). I liked how the book came full circle on several accounts but I also enjoyed how it was written. Much of the book is written in the third person, which is Teresa¿s story itself, but then there are parts that are told in the first person where you read about this reporter finding out the facts and interviewing people about Teresa Mendoza so that he can write a book about her life, which you ironically happen to be reading. It¿s interesting to read about how this man pieces her life together, and sometimes you find out things when he does and other times he finds out things that you already know. So all-in-all I really enjoyed this book. The major lesson in this book is that no matter what happens one can always adapt, change, or become a new person in order to survive in this world. I personally also learned that anyone, seen from a certain point of view, could be a good person. Not that I didn¿t know this before, but one can also learn that the world is a difficult place with complicated rules and it¿s sometimes easier to understand these rules, and life itself, through a book. There are thousands of books out there just waiting to be picked up, and though it may seem hard to grasp the full intended meaning of them, you can still obtain a sense that they contain an important li

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    I read Queen of the South, by Arturo Perez-Reverte, published by

    I read Queen of the South, by Arturo Perez-Reverte, published by Plume, June 2005.  The book was almost like a bunch of books all tied together.  Therefore, it had a few themes.  The themes I found throughout the book were love, crime, and mystery.  The main character in the book was named Teresa Mendoza.  There are several men involved with Teresa in the book.  That’s where the love part comes from.  She comes from a group of people who are into breaking laws and that’s where the crime part comes from.  Also, at the beginning, a notebook is introduced that Teresa was given but is forbidden from reading.  That’s where the mystery part came from.  She is a girl who has had a pretty rough past, and she is scared for the future.  She is stubborn, and once she goes through yet another tragedy, she finds herself alone in the world.  Teresa is brave, and a strong woman.  I thought the book was alright.  I liked it because it was interesting at some points and it made me want to keep reading.  However, at other times it was kind of boring.  At points it was just listing facts and descriptions of people for whole pages at a time, it made me lose interest at some times.  In this book I learned a lot about Spanish life.  I don’t know if it’s true for most Spanish people and Mexicans, but I realize that drugs are a lot more involved in these people’s lives than in most people from the United States.  I would not recommend this book for young readers under the age of 13.  This book talks about violence and I think it’s a little too mature because of the language used for children under 13.  I also think this book would be better for people who know Spanish, because it uses a lot of Spanish language mixed in with the English.

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  • Posted December 2, 2013

    The Queen of the south is an amazing attention grabbing piece wi

    The Queen of the south is an amazing attention grabbing piece with twists and turns that keep you wanting more every page. It all starts with one little phone call that sets her dreams into nightmares and leaves her with a heart wrenching loss of her one true love Guero Davila. He was "the King of the short runway" as many people knew him as and he was heavily involved with drugs specificly cocane.As her hands shake as she reads the note he gave her she makes sure to follow every detail to the last letter and makes her way out of comfort of her home in Mexico to the greatest parts of Spain in order to bring these papers to a man by the name of Don Epifano Vargas and along with the death of her loved one she finds she not only has to deal with one death she has to make sure her life does not end in the same way Gueros did.This book is deffinetly not for everyone and would only recomend this book to people who have a true love for reading and can figure out details and bigger words because the context of this book is not something younger people should unless they are up for a challenge. I liked and disliked this book for several different reasons, I like it because the idea of a mystery tied in with s sort of romeo and juliet situation is in some ways good throughout the book and also bad. I also liked the fact that they had some things you wouldn't have seen coming like one that she could be pregnant and many other things. I didn't enjoy this book because i felt like it was a bit above my head in a sense and i had to think and reread some pages because i didn't quite understand what she was trying to get across especially in the beginning when she describes this dream or idea of her lover enjoying the beach in his beach chair and also some other things such as some conversations around 466 and so forth. Now reading this i don't think i would read it again but it was something i am glad i challenged myself with and learned a few things as well like all about the drug trades in Mexico,the Mediterranean, Latin America. For Teresa Mendoza I believe that in writing she loves to connect the characters emotions with the readers feelings towards their favorite character and find those little things that impact them or they could relate to and that is another reason why i did make it through the book and still happend to enjoy most parts of it

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  • Posted December 11, 2012

    In this novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte a young woman, Teresa Mend

    In this novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte a young woman, Teresa Mendoza, is sent on the run by the death of her man. Guero was a drug trafficker/pilot and couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Eventually he was killed, as are all loud-mouths in that particular profession in Mexico. The protagonist, Teresa, is the next target despite her non-involvement in the traffic. Guero did keep a friend that could get Teresa out of Mexico and she went to him. He got her out of the dead zone and into southern Spain.

    There she got a modest job, though still on the edge of the ‘wrong’ side. She meets another man, Santiago, who also is a trafficker, but makes runs on the ocean. Teresa is thrown right back into the whole mess all over again. Love, lose, repeat. She ends up in jail for a little while, but gets her break after that. The main pieces thereafter are her struggles to rise in a dangerous world or men, drugs, and reasons to kill.

    This book is formatted in an odd fashion with some in the first person of Teresa Mendoza and other parts written through the eyes of a reporter researching her. The transitions are sloppy and there is no indication of view changes. The book is more description than plot and could be portrayed in a much shorter novel. Teresa and other important characters lacked depth and were hard to imagine as a full human being. I do not favor this style, although the descriptions were very thorough and well written. The dialogue left something to be desired, as did the plot and pacing. Overall, not my favorite book.

    I would not recommend this to anyone. There is also some mature content, not of violent nature. I love to read, but had a hard time getting through this one. I found it choppy, badly paced, and just uncomfortable to read. The story itself wasn’t horrible, but there may have been some things lost in translation. I may revisit this in it’s original language to see if it was just the translation that ruined it or if it just wasn’t the book for me.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Teresa Mendoza is a character that csught my attention, not only because of her personality, but, for her deliverance. A young woman who gets involve with a man who was earning a living by dealing drugs and all of a sudden she enters a universe of violence; betrayal; fear; opulence; and passionate love that marked her for ever.

    She did not know any better......she followed a dangerous path after loosing her beloved "El Huero" and she became the Queen of the South.

    There is a lot of discrimination in the book, and we get caught in the trama in which a mexican woman has to deal with life in order to survive.

    We lived her fears; cried her tears and laughed with her...

    Excellent piece of literature !! Well created characters....!!! A good book to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011


    I really recommend it book and advice you to read it but not only to read it but also to see the to series on channle 52 telemundo 10:00pm

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2010


    This book kept me running. A great storyline and a beautiful character make this book #1

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  • Posted December 14, 2010

    Great read!

    The book Queen of the south by Arturo Pérez-Reverte,is the story of Teresa Mendoza and how she becomes to find herself but in a very dangerous way,the story starts shortly after she hears that her beloved Guero has been killed,and its up to Teresa to save herself which leads her to meet some very interesting characters and travel to Spain. I really liked this book because it really keeps you on the edge of your seat and if you are getting bored it picks up and the writer did an excellent job describing all the emotional problems that Teresa was suffering from.I didn't enjoy how the book would start back in the present at the beginning of chapters it made it very confusing. I learned how you can make your own future and how truely nothing is impossible and how if you think something is in you grasp you can reach it. I would highly recommend this book because it is a great read and if you enjoy dark literature then you will definately enjoy it,however i wouldn't recommend it if you don't like drug usage or reading about it.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    A writer worth reading, a window into a lifestyle...

    A window into a lifestyle is what Arturo Perez-Reverte has given us in his novel "The Queen of the South". The drama, the intricacies and suspense of the life of people involved in drug-dealings, arms-dealings, drug-fighting, corruption... love and death. The bets that a woman from a small town Mexico makes on life and death, on her chances to stay alive in circumstances that are againts her. The life that she chooses seem the inevitable result of a succession of events that leave her no choice... or does it? The only option for Theresa in this job is keeping alive and she will do whatever it takes to protect herself and the life she has achieved. For her and the people around her, attachments are to be avoided, relationships don't last --unless it is a business relationship that is profitable and has to be secured at all costs, otherwise, love in her live comes and goes, loyalties being more important than profits, and alliences with groups that survive among deathly rivalry. The enemies of her enemies are her allies....and surprises unfold that make her take drastic decisions that mark turning points in her life and no one can make it out of this lifestyle unscathed, as Theresa would soon discover.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    La Novela Magnifica

    The book, "Queen of the South" by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, is a "biography" of Teresa Mendoza who begins as a beautiful uneducated girl on the arm of a Mexican Drug Runner named Guero Davila. Guero is killed by his bosses and Teresa receives a phone call, in which she knows is the signal, the signal telling her to run for her life, so she flees to Spain. During her getaway, she recalls numerous things Guero has told her about this day. "In this business," Guero had said, "you've got to know how to recognize The Situation. Somebody can come over and say Buenos días. Maybe you even know him, and he'll smile at you. Easy. Smooth as butter. But you'll notice something strange, a feeling you can't quite put your finger on, like something's just this much out of place-" his fingers practically touching. "And a second later, you're a dead man.... or woman."(pg. 11) Once she reaches Spain, Teresa falls for another drug runner, in whom she insists on partnering. She then becomes and expert at piloting boats. Teresa becomes a ruthless drug runner and gains her title "Queen of the South" the leader of a drug smuggling empire.

    Teresa Mandoza's story is not told through her point of view entirely, an unnamed speaker/narrator seemingly Arturo Pérez-Reverte himself, has come to Sinaloa (Teresa's home in Mexico) to investigate and fill the unknown time space in Teresa's life. The narrator inserts himself and his conferences into the biography. Soon the fine line between fiction and fact begin to blur, in which the people he has interviewed are real people, and some of whom he dedicated this novel as well as characters included in the narrative. This adds a depth of realism to the novel, making is seemingly real to the reader.

    I liked this book, the story line kept me on edge the entire time. It was one of those hard to put down books that completely captivates you. As I continued to read, I couldn't stop and it became harder and harder to get my other work done, because all I wanted to do was read!! The beginning, instantly pulls you in with an 'off the charts' ringer of a first paragraph. "The telephone rang, and she knew she was going to die. She knew it with such certainty that she froze, the razor motionless, her hair stuck to her face by the steam from the hot water that condensed in big drops on the tile walls." (Pg. 1) Then follows with introducing the reason for Teresa's horror, why the phone rang. "If this thing ever rings, it's because I (Guero) am dead. So run. As far and as fast as you can, prietita- my little dark skinned one. And don't stop, because I won't be there anymore to help you." (Pg. 2) The book continues to get more exciting and there are little mysteries along the way hidden in the story. The book continues to pull you in further till the very end, it is a charismatic thriller that I would recommend to anyone. A truly remarkable read.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    The Queen of the South

    I thought overall this book was very good. The first hundred pages were a bit slow but after that it became very interesting and suspensful. I like Arturo's style of writing, it seemed to take on journalistic attributes. Also he was very vivid with his description of events. It made me feel like i was right there watching what was happening. I would reccommend this book to everyone over the age of 15. It had some mature content that would be innapropriet for small children. I really enjoyed this book and im sure you would too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Great Read!

    The Queen of the South is a really good book, but the beginning was really slow and kind of boring. Although when you get to like the middle/end it's really fast-paced and exciting. The book begins when the women named Theresa Mendoza gets a call. Now the call is no normal phone call and she knows this. Theresa lives with her boyfriend Guero Davila, who works for a big drug dealer. Guero flies his Cessna plane filled with drugs around to different areas in Mexico and other country¿s in the area. Guero told Theresa that there would some day be a call like this one saying that he is dead and that Theresa would have to run as far away as she can and to start fresh there. And if she doesn't run she will be caught and killed to. This one phone call basically changes her whole life in some ways good and in other ways that could possibly put her in danger. My favorite part of this book is when Theresa asks Guero's friend Don Epifanio Vargas for help and he gave her some money and then got her a flight to Spain were he had some friends who would take her in. ' I can loan you the car with a driver you can trust...I can do that, and have him drive you to Mexico City. Straight to the airport, and there you catch the first plain out.' said Don Epifanios. In Spain, Theresa was doing well in Spain until she fell for this guy was just as dangerous to be around as Guero was, which was a good decision. By the end of the book, Theresa becomes this powerful woman called the Queen of the South but I won¿t tell you why. This book could definitely teach you something about the way you live your life. You can either live your life very cautiously or you can live it like Theresa and be on the run because the people you loved were into some things that were very bad. In the end I allover liked this book because it really was interesting on how she handled herself in some of the worse possible situations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Rising to the top of the Drug World

    I recently read this book. I am not usually a reader of this type of book, I prefer sci-fi usually but I did find this book very interesting and well written. Arturo P&#277 rez-Reverte does a great job in illustrating a world with drugs and violence. The main character of this book is Teresa Mendoza who is the girlfriend of a drug transporter name Guero who flew planes for narco and was killed when it was found out that he was making drug deals on the side. Guero is killed and the people who kill him go after Teresa Mendoza who must survive in a world of corrupt police and drug dealers. She has to flee where she was from and she begins to make a new life for herself and gets involved in. She has to rise to the top and becomes a very successful drug transporter in several different continents. The book starts off with the phone call saying her boyfriend is dead. ¿The telephone rang, and she knew she was going to die¿. Teresa had to run after the phone call and flee. She had to begin a new life and in that life she had to adapt. The story is told in the perspective of Teresa Mendoza as she works her way through the story and an a researcher who is trying to find out information on Teresa Mendoza. The researcher goes around asking important people who know information about Teresa and the character tie in with the people she met. I liked this book because it was well written. Also the way the story is told of how Teresa Mendoza starts off as a no one with little skills and has to adapt and learn to survive in the world of drugs and eventually rises to the top. Also the way he has the researcher narrating it outside of the story lines made the book more interesting and a good read. I liked how the reporter would ask the people who had something to do with her and talk about it in the chapter they are going to be in was a nice way of foreshadowing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes this type of book and even to thoese who don¿t normally read these kind of books because it is very interesting and though not the normal type of book I read I still enjoyed it. In reading this book I learned that people can still change and adapt to their environments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2006

    About a woman who's INDEPENDENT and HIGHLY RESPECTED because she EARNED HER OWN WAY to the top.

    One of my top three books ever! What I love about this book is that the main character is a woman of power! Unlike most thrillers where the woman is a supporting character of a man, or a woman who will give up her life's work for a man, or a woman who sleeps with any old man because she finds him 'irresistible', this book shows what a woman can do when given the opportunity. This book revolves around a woman who is INDEPENDENT and HIGHLY RESPECTED because she EARNED HER OWN WAY to the top. *Highly recommended to feminists*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2005


    This book was surprisingly good and hard to put down. It really opened up a whole new world of women in drugs and mafia in Mexico that was unknown to me. Definitely good if you want to discover an enticing and dangerous life in literature. However, prepare yourself for sure ambivalence towards the main character, I never could figure out whether I supported her or not, it kept me thinking to this day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2005

    well written but rambling

    This book was well written but the 400 pages details a story that really is not gripping and could be told in 40 pages. None of the events of the story really depend on each other and seem contrived. I would not have read this if I could do it over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2005


    Wow! I listened to this book in my car and ended up taking detours to make my drive a bit longer. Amazingly artistic writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2005

    Don't Miss this Book!

    I could not put it down! This book has changed the way I view international travel - a great story, a wonderful storyteller!

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