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The Neruda Case: A Novel by Roberto Ampuero

The Neruda Case: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Roberto Ampuero

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Title:The Neruda Case: A Novel
Authors:Roberto Ampuero
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Neruda, Chile, Cuba, detective story, east Berlin

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The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero



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In 1972, or so, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, dying of cancer in Valparaiso while Allende’s government falls apart, hires Cuban exile Cayetano Brulé to find a woman he knew 30 years before, in the hopes that the daughter she bore was his, rather than her husband’s. Because Cayetano, as he’s called throughout, has no detective skills, Neruda gives him, and insists he read, some Inspector Maigret crime novels by the Belgian author George Simenon, for training.

Cayetano travels to Havana, Mexico City, East Berlin, La Paz, and Santiago detecting, before ending up, again, in Valparaiso, unfortunately at the exact time, September 11, 1973, of Pinochet’s coup. Things don’t go well.

This story is framed within present-day events, apparently to set up the possibility of a literary future for the now-experienced investigator.
This isn’t a detective story in any way Western readers understand the genre. Instead, it is a mixture of Chilean history, a fictional reflection of Neruda’s relationships with women, some bits about the protagonists relationships with women, with none of it holding together real well, except for the fictional history. I found the character of Cayetano perplexing, getting detective-ish results by people doing things for him and providing him information for no good reason.

It’s not awful – I did read it all the way through – but I sure can’t see what’s “delightful” about Cayetano Brulé (as one jacket blurb said) nor can I see why Ampuera is such a hit in Latin America. But he is, and if another book in the series is translated, I’ll give it a shot. This one could be just back-story. ( )
  steve.clason | Jan 26, 2014 |
The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero, translated by Carolina de Robertis (author of Perla), is set just before the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile when Castro is in power in Cuba and Germany has been cut in half by the wall. Cuban exile Cayetano Brulé has left Miami with his wife, Maria Paz Angela Undurraga Cox, for her home in Chile, but he continues to feel out of place as no one trusts a Cuban and he cannot find work. Meanwhile, his wife is increasingly engaged in the reform movement in the country, while at the same time she is pulling away from her husband. Wandering in a strange country with bad coffee, Cayetano unwittingly bumps into Pablo Neruda at a party in a library and shortly receives an offer he cannot refuse.

Read full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2013/06/the-neruda-case-by-roberto-ampuero-translate... ( )
  sagustocox | Jun 18, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
After reading this fine book, I was bemused that I enjoyed it so much, especially since the latest mystery/detective trend appears to make a character that is curious by nature, but not a detective by trade, and introduce a dynamic historical character, and let mystery unfold. It sounds like a sure fire way to make a winning story, but of late it has often failed, due to the author either using clichés about the famous character or failing to build the character and surrounding environment up. This book was a great read, it took me longer than most books of this genre to read, maybe due to the translation (which I assume was true to original and did not trip up my experience), but appeared more lyrical & nuanced cadence than most mysteries. I look forward to the wonderful experience of the global information grid, where more and more authors from other countries are being brought to us in the US, and that is great. ( )
  RobFow | May 28, 2013 |
Yay, it is here in my hot little hands, waiting to be read.

In the middle of another book, but soon. It does look very good. (this was a first reads win)

So, rushed through previouss books to read this. It is such a multilayered and interesting book, by turns witty and suspenseful. I used the word "sly" midway in my status updates, but it is also nostalgic, and audacious, taking the poet and looking at his life through the women he loved or betrayed, real and fictional, and looking at the period through which he lived, the politics and posturings, the succession of disguises people don...for fun, for love, for survival. And finally...very strangely moving. I liked it a great deal. ( )
  jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
Slow to get going but once it started to pull me this was a very entertaining and informative fictional book about Pablo Neruda, the Chilean revolution, sleuthing, womanizing and the facades we all wear to do our lives. ( )
  authorknows | Dec 10, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Although “The Neruda Case” is a prequel for his international readers, here in the United States, it should be a prologue for more novels from this shrewd and serious-minded novelist.
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"Published for the first time in English, an atmospheric, brilliant novel from an internationally bestselling literary luminary. Roberto Ampuero's novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brule are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro's Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature's most beloved figures--Pablo Neruda. Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life. As Cayetano fumbles around his first case, finding it hard to embrace the new inspector identity foisted upon him, he begins to learn more about Neruda's hidden agenda. Neruda sends him on a whirlwind expedition around the world, ending back in Chile, where Pinochet's coup plays out against the final revelations of their journey. Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero's novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era"--… (more)

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