Roberto Ampuero's novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brulé are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, listeners 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.
The rendering of Pablo Neruda is by far the best part of the book. As Ampuero says in the postscript, he aimed to bring El Poeta down to earth, show him for the great but flawed person he was. By all means, go read some Neruda poems when you're done; they'll bring out the Great Man part.
The "mystery", such as it is, is disappointing, just this-happened-then-this-then-this, even as the story goes all over the world. As the Pinochet coup approaches, descriptions of Chile in turmoil are vivid and harrowing, but are over almost as soon as they begin.
I found the reading professional but perfunctory.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Neruda Case again? Why?
I read the first half of The Neruda Case but then a long car ride awaited, so I was very happy to find the audio version available on audible.com. The premise is engaging, and I enjoyed the audio version all the way on my journey home.
What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Great narrator. He does the voices, too, but I mainly appreciated his voice as the regular character .
Any additional comments?
This is a wonderful story, vividly told, with a wonderful literary premise. It kept my interest from beginning to end. The author is very talented - and this is the first of his many books to be translated into English. I hope some of the others will also be translated now.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A story rich in detail and short on plot. The author shared a descriptive picture of Chile, Cuba and East Germany in the early 1970's. It seemed as if the story was a device to share the description of a world the author knew well and loved. He gave us a glimpse of the political situation at that moment and a superficial biography of Neruda. I liked the narrators voice, calm and reassuring and good to listen to at the end of the day.