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No One Loves a Policeman

by Guillermo Orsi

This fast-moving, cynical, and witty novel is set in Argentina in December 2001, at the height of the economic crisis. Chandlerian in its steamy narrative, the story is about a country and its people going nowhere very fast indeed.

The Detective pressed into service under pressure in a corrupt society is not exactly an original theme, but Guillermo Orsi does it with such verve and snap that it rattles along at a great pace. It is impossible to describe any part of the novel individually because it hangs tightly together and plunges right into the plot from page 1.

This detective, Pablo Martelli, has a black sense of humour and a dry way of expressing it. He has been unjustly thrown out of the elite branch of the police force (known as the "National Shame") and is scratching a living as a bathroom appliance salesman. His battles are with crooked policemen and corrupt politicians. He never asked for it, but that's life. When he tries to retire to a quiet life shared only with his cat and a cleaning lady, life intrudes in the form of a telephone call for help from an old friend. But when he gets to his friend's house he is too late: the friend is lying dead in a pool of blood. Martelli has no wish at all to solve this murder, but his friend's delectable young mistress and his friend's rich and attractive wife absolutely insist, and he is drawn irrevocably into a frightening spiral typical of the noir thriller. Set against a backdrop of Argentina in meltdown, it is a strongly atmospheric novel.

Guillermo Orsi was born in Buenos Aires, where he still lives and works as a journalist. Of course, he writes like a journalist - immediate, living prose that reads as though it was written yesterday. He was awarded the 2007 Premio Internacional de Novel Negra Cuidad for NO-ONE LOVES A POLICEMAN.

Paula McMaster

Published by MacLehose Press, 288pp.

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