Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Lady from Buenos Aires by John Lantigua

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Lady from Buenos Aires by John Lantigua. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Lady from Buenos Aires by John Lantigua

The Lady from Buenos Aires by John Lantigua
A Willie Cuesta Mystery

Arte Publico Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-55885-496-7 (1558854967)
ISBN-13: 978-1-55885-496-3 (9781558854963)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Willie Cuesta wears tropical shirts, cool linen slacks, and Mexican sandals to ward off the Florida heat. Formerly a Miami Police Department detective, he now works as chief of security at his brother’s salsa club while he waits for new clients at his detective agency in Little Havana.

After meeting Fiona Bonaventura, Willie quickly realizes that her predicament isn’t a straight forward missing-persons case. The elegant Argentinean is convinced that she has found her dead sister’s daughter. Her sister Sonia disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war” more than twenty years ago, but her pregnant body was never found. Fiona has never stopped searching for her sister’s child, and several times has been steps away from finding the girl she is convinced is her niece. This time she has tracked the girl to , and Fiona is determined not to lose her again.

As Willie delves into the case, a host of shady characters surface with ties to the Argentinean military dictatorship responsible for the death and disappearance of thousands of citizens: Sarah Ingram, who teaches tango in a dance studio in a quiet, suburban neighborhood; her polo-playing husband who makes it clear he won’t tolerate questions about his intelligence work in Argentina years ago; a terrified man who survived torture and imprisonment during the “dirty war” and may be able to identify some of his torturers if he can set his fear aside; and even an Argentine diplomat.

When people associated with the case start turning up dead and Willie finds himself held captive in the back of an SUV, he knows for sure that death squads from another time and place have arrived in Miami. As the vehicle careens through the pre-dawn streets of Miami, Willie Cuesta must hang on desperately as his latest case spirals out of control.

Review: After an absense of almost six years, Cuban-American private investigator Willie Cuesta returns in The Lady from Buenos Aires, the third mystery in this series by John Lantigua.

This is the heart-felt story of Fiona Bonaventura’s twenty year search for the child of her younger sister, Sonia, who was killed in Argentina’s “dirty war." Sonia was captured as a rebel to the cause while she was still pregnant. She was put in a special area and allowed to give birth, but then she was sent to her death. The baby was given to Manuel Navarro, a member of the military, and his wife, Felicia. When the war ended Manuel left the country. He did not want to be tried as a war criminal. Now, Fiona finds out he and his family is somewhere in Miami. She hires private investigator Willie Cuesta of Little Havana to find them. All Fiona gives Cuesta to go on is a picture of Sonia when she was twenty years old, the age of Sonia’s daughter now and the name of Manuel Navarro. He gets information from his computer, asks for help from a friend, a detective on the Miami Police Force, and a lawyer who deals with immigration issues. He finds people who knew people in Argentina during those horrible days. When he thinks he’s getting close, some of those to whom he has spoken to are killed or else mysteriously disappear. He, too, is shot, beaten up, shoved in the back of an SUV and stomped on. The men and women now he talks to either lie to him, or are afraid to talk to him, or they send him on wild goose chases. Notable among these is a priest who was a chaplain in Argentina during the war, now a real estate dealer in Miami, and the vice council at the Argentine consulate in Miami.

The Lady from Buenos Aires is an extraordinary story that compels interest throughout. The historical background adds credibility to the plot which itself is relentless. It is an exciting, frequently scary, ride that Lantigua takes the reader on as Cuesta pursues his investigation. Reading this excellent mystery is time well spent.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of The Lady from Buenos Aires and to Arte Publico Press for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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