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Velvet Was the Night #ourgoodlifebookreview

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I just finished this new book from Sylvia Moreno-Garcia (author of Mexican Gothic) and I cannot wait to share it with you. It is a historical noir, a genre I am not familiar with.  Here's what I learned: Noir fiction (or roman noir) is a subgenre of crime fiction. In this subgenre, right and wrong are not clearly defined, while the protagonists are seriously and often tragically flawed. (Wikipedia)  

Book synopsis from Amazon:  

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

My Take

This is a historical noir, which I was unfamiliar with the genre, that kept me interested with its deep descriptions and great characters. This is her forte, writing characters that are complex and deep.  Her characters in this book are somewhat loners, which makes their decisions a little difficult to understand (for me.)  The characters unite with their experiences, yet you feel they are holding back.  I was unfamiliar with the Dirty War, so I found myself wondering about that a lot. I grew up in the 70s so I had a deep interest in the setting as well, more so than I typically do.  I don't like a lot of violence and somehow I didn't pick up on that in the description, so I found myself skimming through those parts, but the storyline is so compelling that I kept reading, and I am so glad I did!  I loved learning about Mexican history and something that was happening in the world when I was growing up. 

If you are a fan of her writings, you won't be disappointed.  Mexican Gothic is way different, but the intensity that she writes with is present in this book and you will appreciate the research she has done to present the time period well.

The Author

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed speculative novels Mexican GothicGods of Jade and ShadowSignal to NoiseCertain Dark Things, and The Beautiful Ones, as well as the crime novel Untamed Shore. She has edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (aka Cthulhu's Daughters). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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