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» » Who Killed Palomino Molero?: A Novel
Who Killed Palomino Molero?: A Novel
Title:

Who Killed Palomino Molero?: A Novel

Author:
Alfred MacAdam,Mario Vargas Llosa
ISBN:
0374525560
PDF book size:
1988 kb
ePub book size:
1457 kb
Fb2 book size:
1861 kb
Other formats:
lrf txt azw docx
ISBN13
978-0374525569
Rating:
4.5 of 5
Votes:
862
Publisher:
Noonday Press; Reprint edition (June 24, 1998)
Language:
English
Subcatergory:
United States
Pages:
160

This wonderful detective novel is set in Peru in the 1950s. Near an Air Force base in the northern desert, a young airman is found murdered. Lieutenant Silva and Officer Lituma investigate. Lacking a squad car, they have to cajole a local cabbie into taking them to the scene of the crime. Their superiors are indifferent; the commanding officer of the air base stands in their way; but Silva and Lituma are determined to uncover the truth.

Who Killed Palomino Molero, an entertaining and brilliantly plotted mystery, takes up one of Vargas Llosa's characteristic themes: the despair at how hard it is to be an honest man in a corrupt society.

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7 Reviews
  • I fell in love with Vargas Llosa's bewitching style less than a month ago, when I read my first novel by this brilliant author, "Death in the Andes," also a detective story, but published 7 years after "Who Killed Palomino Molero," in 1993. I immediately took up "War of the End of the World," a Masterpiece, which I am still trudging through, while lightening up the load with brief forays such as this small treasure.

    Just as these other two Vargas Llosa novels, "Who Killed Palomino Molero" is more poetic rendering of the humanity's tribulations and propensity for hope than a complex, fast paced story. Unlike most modern fiction, which pulls readers in through plot twists, action, and constant end of chapter "cliff hangers," inducing them to forget the writing and word choice and to follow through to the end for curiosity about what happens, Vargas Llosa's work is brilliant because his stories are secondary, they are merely a vehicle for his insightful and beautifully written commentary (Do not misunderstand me: I love a good story, as modern technology, film/TV and other forms of entertainment have taught us to do; as time passes, we tend to be less patient, more eager for action than for thought--but few writers, such as Vargas Llosa, still have the power to capture attention and remind us that there is much more to be gained by savoring life than by rushing through it).

    "Who Killed Palomino Molero" does not stand on its own as a mystery (the two guards who investigate the death of deserter airman Palomino Molero solve the crime because individuals openly confess, not because of their investigative skills, not with the help of any Sherlockian deductions or forensics), however, it offers a beautiful and fascinating depiction of life in coastal Peru around the 1950s as well as a portrait of life in poverty and of how individuals may find meaning and even happiness under depriving, inhospitable conditions.

    Abject impoverishment, racism, corruption, incest, savage murder, obscenity, squalid heat, and classism constitute the background of the mystery--but the foreground of the story, which follows Civil Guard (policeman) Lituma and his commanding officer as they seek to uncover the mystery of a young "cholo" (person of color) who has been found severely mutilated and impaled in a field of carob trees on the outskirts of an airforce base.

    Faced with the racism of whites on the base, with nepotism in the ranks (and subsequent punishment in the form of reassignment), with unspeakable tragedy (in the form of a mother who has lost her last son and living relative, or in the form of intimidated neighbors unwilling to speak out for fear of retribution), with sexual desire and unrequited love, Lituma's story paints a desolate (yet not a miserable or wretched) landscape within which he manages to not only survive, but to maintain a serene and even joyous attitude towards celebrating the seemingly insignificant moments which constitute daily experience. For Vargas Llosa presents Lituma as an ultimately satisfied (if not happy) man, as someone whose profundity arises from his attunement to lived experience.

    Through Lituma's descriptions, we experience fully the scorching Peruvian sun, the smell of the landscape--carob trees, dust, manure, the sounds of the villages, the squalid poverty of most villagers--but also the simple joys of dining with friends, of smoking a cigar(ette) on the ocean shore at midnight, of a hot cup of coffee on a cold summer night, or of the inspiring melody of a guitarist strumming a bolero. Vargas Llosa manages to do depict all this melodically, yet using simple, not overtly flowery language (of course, this is based on the English translation, but the same has been written about his original Spanish)--unlike most other modern writers who seem to equivocate poetic writing with the usage of obscure verbiage, of impossibly long sentences, intricate constructions, and original metaphors (and who end up sounding pretentious for doing this 9 times out of 10).

    Most of all, Vargas Llosa is a master phenomenologist (on par with philosophers such as David Abram, Edward Casey, Jean Paul Satre, and Albert Camus), someone who attends to the hidden mysteries of mundane, reflexive acts, to the structure of consciousness, and to the inextricable relationship between human experience and context (not limited to social or natural domains but encompassing both). Unlike Sartre and Camus, however, Vargas Llosa's phenomenological descriptions, while bleak, are not depressing, but ultimately uplifting: his characters, seeped in the experience of deprivation (versus Sartre' and Camus' privileged characters), seem to understand the importance of valuing--and deriving peace or happiness from--every detail (which Sartre and Camus do not even seem notice in their highbrow philosophical meanderings).

    If you are looking for an atmospheric, brooding, existentially gripping portrait of Peruvian life in mid century, you will enjoy "Who Killed Palomino Molero"; if, on the other hand, you are looking for a clever mystery filled with twists and surprises, you'd be better off reading something else.

  • Arrived in good condition was a really good book and to long chapters were short

  • This is my favorite Llosa's book. I had a good laugh while reading it. Excellent satiric book about army in general.

  • Required for college

  • I WOULD COMPLETELY RECOMMEND picking up this book! READ IT!

    YOu will NOT be able to PUT it down!

    It is a mystery and its completely extraordinary!

  • Bought this book for my english class to read for a final and i had to say it was a really good book keeps you interested

  • "The boy had been both hung and impaled on the old carob tree. His position was so absurd that he looked more like a scarecrow or a broken marionette than a corpse. Before or after they killed him, they slashed him to ribbons: his nose and mouth were split open; his face was a crazy map of dried blood, bruises, cuts, and cigarette burns." So begins Mario Vargas Llosa's short, riveting detective novel set in a small town in 1950s Peru. After reading for the third time, I asked myself: now what makes `Who Killed Palomino Molero?' so gripping, so totally absorbing? On reflection, I think there are several good reasons:

    The way the story is told: we follow the path of two policeman from the local force, Lieutenant Silva and his young assistant, Lituma, as they make their rounds on foot, usually under a blazing hot sun, to solve the case. The 3rd person narrator frequently dips into the mind of Lituma, making for most effective storytelling - it is as if the emotions and actions of all the characters are intensified by Lituma's feelings and musings.

    The arch of the story: the guts of the novel, the plot, follows what Aristotle outlines in his Poetics. Each successive scene develops and reveals the details of motive and character as the lieutenant and Lituma converse with one key player in the murder's drama in each chapter. We encounter unexpected twists along the way, but, ultimately, there is a sense of inevitability in how events unfold and ultimately conclude.

    The subplot: nothing like a little lust to add some spice to a murder mystery. Lieutenant Silva yearns for chubby Doña Adriana, owner of the local rundown, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As the mystery is resolved in the last chapter, so also is Lieutenant Silva's relationship with his chubby object of sexual hunger. Aristotle would be pleased.

    So, all in all, a novel well worth the read and at 150 pages of large print, a novel that can be read in a day. And if you are unacquainted with Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, finishing this short work might motivate you to tackle one of his longer novels.

  • Palomino Molero is a young airman in the Peruvian Air Force who is found brutally murdered near his base by a goatherd. The local Guardia Civil is notified, and Lieutenant Silva and Officer Lituma undertake an investigation. The pair soon find out that Palomino left the base several days before his murder, and suspect that his killers will be found there. The commanding officer, Colonel Mindreau, a haughty white officer, condescendingly tells the pair (who are cholos, like the murdered airman) that he has investigated the case and concluded that no one on the base knows anything about the crime. The lieutenant is far from convinced, however, particularly when the colonel becomes enraged and flustered after he is questioned further. The officers are hampered by their inability to interview anyone on the base by the colonel, until an anonymous tip points them in the right direction.

    "Who Killed Palomino Molero?" is a mystery set in mid-20th century Peru, which lightly touches on class and racial differences, corruption, and power. It does not have the complexity or power of Vargas Llosa's better known novels, such as The Time of the Hero or The Conversation in the Cathedral, but it was still an enjoyable read.