Fue el estado

Tony Wood

  • Silver Bullets by Elmer Mendoza, translated by Mark Fried
    MacLehose Press, 240 pp, £14.99, April 2015, ISBN 978 1 85705 258 9

Writing in 1973, the Mexican critic Carlos Monsiváis argued that, for a number of reasons, his country lacked a genuine crime fiction tradition of its own. For one thing, if Mexican crime writers were to aspire to realism, the accused would never be punished ‘unless he were poor’. In fact, ‘the identity of the criminal is the least of it’; the suspense would come from how he went about disrupting the investigation or buying off the authorities. Monsiváis believed the nature of crime itself was different in his part of the world: ‘What is exceptional, what is unwonted, is not for a Latin American to be a victim, but that he might cease to be one.’ There was, he implied, a deep gulf between his country and those of Poe, Hammett, Chandler, Doyle, Christie, Simenon and the rest: ‘We have no crime fiction here because there is no faith in justice.’

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