She Devil in the Mirror-Horacio Castellanos Moya
nationality: El Salvador
Novel in translation
Laura Rivera can’t believe what has happened. Her best friend has been killed in cold blood in the living room of her home, in front of her two young daughters! Nobody knows who pulled the trigger, but Laura will not rest easy until she finds out. Her dizzying, delirious, hilarious, and blood-curdling one-sided dialogue carries the reader on a rough and tumble ride through the social, political, economic, and sexual chaos of post-civil war San Salvador. A detective story of pulse-quickening suspense, The She-Devil in the Mirror is also a sober reminder that justice and truth are more often than not illusive.
Until the end, I did not enjoy reading this book. Why?
I hated Laura. So much. This is a one voice, one narrator monologue and Laura is insufferable. She's a meddling, critical, racist, classist, hysterical person who always thinks she knows best, impedes in the investigation she's so hysterical about and is often wrong and is incapable of acknowledging the about faces she engages in. Corruption pours from every pore of her skin.
My teeth were set on edge while she talks about her friend, a 'paragon' of society who would be in most other societies, considered a somewhat immoral person and then Laura has sexually charged encounter with all her friend's lovers. And there're a lot of them.
I kept reading mainly because the language creates a pace that is like falling head first down a well. I genuinely cared about whether the police would be capable of finding Olga Maria's murderer so I kept going and I'm thrilled I did. You always knew Laura was an unreliable narrator and Moya really handles the last twist so well that the entire book in hindsight ended up being so great.