I’m Feeling You*

For a book lover, it’s a real treat to plunge into the work of a ‘new to me’ author. It’s not exactly good for the TBR, but it offers the reader a new perspective and, sometimes, a solid back catalogue to discover. So I’m happy to participate in the New (to Me, Anyway) Author meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. Psst…as you’ll be there, anyway, do check out this excellent blog. Great reviews await you!!

For this quarter, I admit I’m cheating (just a little), because I’m highlighting the work of Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and I have read a little of his non-fiction. But, I hadn’t read his series featuring Mexico City PI Hector Belascoarán Shayne until early this year. So, that counts, doesn’t it, Kerrie?

Originally from Spain, Taibo II and his family emigrated to Mexico when he was a boy, and most of his life has been spent there. As well as being one of Mexico’s most prolific authors, Taibo II is also a social activist whose work reflects his anti-fascist/pro-union views. He’s known for being one of the founders of the neopolicial sub-genre of crime fiction – crime fiction that addresses social issues. As Franklin Rodriquez has pointed out, Taibo II defines the neopolicial

‘… as a mechanism of denunciation and reflection about social and political problems.’  

Certainly, that’s what we see in his Hector Belascoarán Shayne novels.

Belascoarán Shayne is a half-Basque/half-Irish independent detective who makes his first appearance in Days of Combat/Días de Combate. In that novel, he leaves his wife and his ‘safe’ job as a factory foreman to embark on a career as a PI, a decision that seems on the surface to be rash at best. Then, a series of murders is committed by a killer who calls himself the Cervo. Since the police are inefficient, corrupt, and not to be trusted, Belasoaran Shayne decides to try to catch the killer himself. Slowly, he builds a reputation as a man who can get things done, and who can be trusted. I haven’t been able to find a good English translation of that novel. So, for those interested in meeting Belascoarán Shayne in English, I invite you to try An Easy Thing, the second in that series.

Belascoarán Shayne is well aware of the corruption around him. He’s rather philosophical about it, and does what he can to make things right, if I may put it that way. He knows that his work isn’t going to really change things in Mexico. Like his creator, he’s politically-minded, and sees what’s going on around him all too clearly. But he does what he can.

The series has a touch of the surreal to it – just a bit like magic realism, although (at least for me), more prosaic. It’s set very distinctly in Mexico (mostly Mexico City), and shows the reader quite a lot about the social and political realities of that country.

Want to know more about Paco Ignacio Taibo II? Wikipedia has some information here.

Want to know more about Days of Combat/Días de Combate (in Spanish)? Check it out here.

Want to know more about An Easy Thing? It’s here.

Want to know more about Hector Belascoarán Shayne? There’s an interesting little writeup here.


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Carlos Santana (it features the lovely voice of Michelle Branch).


Filed under Paco Ignacio Taibo II

24 responses to “I’m Feeling You*

  1. Col

    New to me Margot – thanks (I think), off to do some more digging!

  2. You travel the world in the books you read don’t you Margot? This one sounds like a great way in to another culture, and must go onto the list.

    • I found Taibo II’s work a really authentic look at Mexico City and the culture. It’s written by one of the country’s best-regarded writers, too, so definitely worth (in my opinion) checking it out. It’s not for everyone, but it is authentic.

  3. Such an interesting writer! How do you find them?

  4. Sounds intriguing! I’ll stick him on the list for Mexico in my around the world tour – thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

    • Always happy to add to your TBR, FictionFan *Evil cackle* 😉 – I do hope you’ll enjoy his work if you try it. I think it’s quite authentic, and he writes a solid story, to. His work isn’t what you’d call uplifting and cheerful. But it’s well-written and I do like the characters.

  5. mudpuddle

    muchas gracias por el intrduccion a este novella..probablemente voy a leer esto con mucho satisfaccion, especialmente si no hay demasiado violencia o sangre… perdone usted el espanol que es usado de yo… voy a apprender mas palabras alguein dia… haha (voy a pasar nunque)

    [Thank you very much for the introduction to this book. I’ll probably read it with much satisfaction, especially if there isn’t too much violence or blood… Pardon the Spanish that I’ve used. I’m going to learn more words some day… haha (That’s never going to happen)]

    • No hay ningún problem, Mudpuddle. Te he entendido muy bien. En cuanto a los libros de Taibo II, sí que hay violencia, y, a veces, sangre. Pero, en mi opinión, no es desproporcionado. Si tengas tiempo para leer uno de sus libros, espero que disfrutes de la experiencia.

      [It’s no problem, Mudpuddle. I understood you very well. As for Taibo II’s books, yes, there’s violence, and at times, blood. But, in my opinion, it’s not out of proportion. If you have time to read one of his books, I hope you’ll enjoy the experience.]

  6. Great recommend! I’m busily reading a series by Malla Nunn- will take the 4th and last with me today as I fly out for my new hip. The series is set in South Africa in the early years of apartheid. Excellent!

    • I’m so very glad you’re enjoying Nunn’s Emmanuel Cooper series, Jan. I think it’s an excellent series, and Cooper is a great character. I love the setting, too. Wishing you well with your surgery!

  7. Definitely ‘new-to-me’ author and series. Sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. A great way to find a lot of new authors.

  8. Keishon

    Thanks Margot for the write up on this author. I’d never heard of him but I think you’ve mentioned his work before because I put that title AN EASY THING in my wishlist last year. I did go ahead and buy one of his books, FOUR HANDS, because that one sounded intriguing to me. In fact, most of his work sounds interesting and I’d love to read his detective series but looks like not all of them are available/translated or in digital format.

    • No, they’re not, Keishon, and I honestly wish they were. I’d love to know what you think of Four Hands when you get to it. I think Taibo II is a really interesting writer, and his perspective on Mexico is fascinating.

  9. A great meme and a very interesting sounding series – interesting to hear you read some of his non-fiction work first, and I presume thought fairly highly of it but it always surprises me when authors do both (although many do very successfully) as the ‘feel’ of the two are quite different.

    • They really are, Cleo. It’s difficult to make that transition, and I respect those who do. As to Taibo II’s writing. he writes knowledgeably, and his crime fiction does evoke Mexico City during the years when the novels take place. If you do try the novels, I hope you’ll enjoy them.

      As for the meme? It’s fantastic, isn’t it? I’m so glad Kerrie set it up. We’d love you to join us if you’re so inclined.

  10. kathy d

    I love Malla Nunn’s series, am wistfully waiting for more books about Emmanuel Cooper.
    I sent a friend who reads crime fiction in several languages, including Spanish, this post. And he told me he was just in Mexico for a conference and met some Argentinian mystery aficionados and they recommended Taibo’s books.
    So he bought one, but unfortunately for me, it’s in Spanish, of course.
    So I’ll have to find a book in English.

    • I’m glad your friend got the chance to hear about Taibo II’s work, Kathy. Some of it is available in English, so if you do get a chance to try it, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  11. Wow. Sounds like an interesting series, Margot.

  12. I have a copy of An Easy Thing, Margot. Bought it a couple of years ago at the book sale, on a whim. Now I need to read it.

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