Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Queen of the South by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Andrew Hurley (Translator

It is not unusual for me to read books in translation. I am drawn to works by French, Italian, and Russian authors. For some reason, one day I picked up The Fencing Master and found myself hooked on the writing of arturo Pérez-Reverte. Being an avid reader and regular consumer of mysteries and intrigue, the works of this Spanish author are not my normal book selection, but once I start reading, I am swept
> up in the pros, the language, and the unfolding of the story. The Queen of the South did not disappoint.
The book opens with a phone call - a call expected but not desired. A call that will change many lives, primarily that of Teresa who is now on her own; alone to find her way. From these opening scenes, Teresa is on the run. Brought up in poverty, formerly the woman of a drug dealer, she is forced to escape Mexico and live off her wits; to find her own way.
Through wonderful pros, the author spins Teresa's tale as seen through her eyes and those of a reporter who is attempting to tell her story. Teresa flees Mexico to land on her feet in Spain where she develops as a person and yet remains isolated from everyone. As Teresa states, "It might be that ambition, plans, dreams, even bravery, or faith-even faith in God, she decided shivering-didn't give you strength, but took it away. Because hope, even the mere desire to survive, made a person vulnerable, bound to possible pain and defeat" (206).
Relationships are a vulnerability to Teresa as is hope. She finds peace in books and the sea while artfully building and controlling a drug transport business and becoming the Queen of the South. The book provides insight into a world that, for many of us, seems far removed and foreign. Through Teresa's story, the reader moves through the world of narcotics at the highest levels. The politics, the thirst for power, and the corruption are described in vivid detail. It is a world of cold hearted characters with each doing everything
> possible to survive and prosper.
I have heard this book described as a mystery and a thriller, though I am not sure I would describe it as either. There are some exciting chase scenes and others in which I found myself wanting Teresa to survive but not fully understanding why. If you are open to trying something new, it is a good read.

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