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The Mongolian Conspiracy by Rafael Bernal
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The Mongolian Conspiracy

by Rafael Bernal

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This was a fun read, if the reader can get past the multiple dead bodies and repeated use of the f-word, for the protagonist of this 1969 novel, only translated into English last year, is Filiberto Garcia, a former fighter in the Mexican Revolution who is now the Mexico City police department's unofficial hitman. At the beginning of the book, he is summoned to the office of his superior and a person who wants to remain unnamed (but who recognizes as an up-and-coming politician) and is assigned to be the point person working with an FBI agent and a KGB agent to thwart a suspected plot to kill the US President and the Mexican President when the US President visits in a few days. The Russians are involved because they told the Mexicans that they had intercepted news of this plot from their spies in Outer Mongolia, and that it was a plot created by the Chinese Communists. Garcia is chosen for the investigation not only because of his professional expertise but because he hangs out in Mexico City's "Chinatown," a down-and-out street of cheap restaurants and has good relationships with their Chinese owners and workers (he ignores their opium smoking and dealing and participates in their gambling).

As the plot develops, there are hints that all is not as it seems, that the money that supposedly has been sent from China is too much for a mere (!) double assassination; in addition, Garcia develops a relationship with a young Chinese woman, Marta, but was she sent to keep an eye on him? Is it international intrigue, or is it a home-grown plot? And if so, is it drug smuggling or something more sinister? There are many complications before Garcia, more than the US and Soviet agents who tend to condescend to him, figures out what is going on. Everybody is spying on everyone else and some of the scenes with Garcia and the two agents would be hilarious if they weren't so chilling.

Despite being perfectly readable as the satirical noir classic that it is, this book also comments bitingly on some aspects of internal Mexican political intrigue, corruption, and brutality. On the negative side, Garcia can be quite offensive in his characterization of women and his relationships with them (although this is somewhat redeemed by his growing fondness for Marta). I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this novel, but I couldn't put it down once I started it.
1 vote rebeccanyc | Aug 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rafael Bernalprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bernal, CocolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldman, FranciscoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Silver, KatherineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Days before a visit to Mexico City by the American President, Filiberto Garcia is assigned to investigate a Chinese-Mongolian assassination plot, leading him into the underbelly of the city's Chinatown and a deepening conspiracy.

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