Red April ~ Santiago Roncagliolo

Red AprilBack in September 2001 (but 5 days after the 9/11 attacks) Vice-President Dick Cheney layed out his own Shining Path vision. It has come to be known famously as his “Dark Side” quote.

We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

It’s hard to ignore the eerie echoes of Cheney’s sinister vision when reading this novel of the terrorism, political corruption and moral dilemmas of the sendero luminoso days of Fujimoro’s Peru. In April 2000, Government Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar begins investigating a series of grisly deaths. As he does so, the lines blur and the moral center spirals. Sounds familiar. First-timer Roncagliolo does a good job of immersing the reader in the increasingly murky divisions between authority and chaos.

Adding to the feeling of unease is the very atmospheric setting. The action takes place during a very old and traditional Catholic Festival during Lent and Holy week. Cinematically, there is nothing like the sinister undertones of Carnival. ♦♦♦

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