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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Sweet Money

Ernesto Mallo

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To purchase Sweet Money

Title: Sweet Money
Author: Ernesto Mallo
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 223 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Sweet Money - US
Delincuente Argentino - US
Sweet Money - UK
Sweet Money - Canada
Sweet Money - India
Der barfüßige Polizist von der Calle San Martín - Deutschland
El policía descalzo de la Plaza San Martín - España
  • Spanish title: Delincuente Argentino
  • Also published in Spanish as: El policía descalzo de la Plaza San Martín
  • Translated by Katherine Silver

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Our Assessment:

B : solid crime thriller of corrupt 1980s Argentina

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 15/8/2011 .
The Telegraph . 15/7/2011 Jake Kerridge
Die Welt . 9/10/2010 Jennifer Wilton

  From the Reviews:
  • "Mallo’s frequent ruminations on ants, love, and food serve as metaphors for the corruption that pervaded each aspect of Argentine life during this violent period of political unrest." - Publishers Weekly

  • "The macho bank-robber hero is called Miranda, but otherwise it is hard to fault this heady story of good men fighting the system." - Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Sweet Money is the second 'Inspector Lascano thriller', with 'Perro' Lascano recovering from a near-fatal bullet wound -- and wondering who his new-found protector is. It turns out to be the corrupt policeman Turcheli -- a man on the rise, about to be named chief of police, who understands that:

The police force is a wonderful business opportunity, but in order fgor it to stay like that it's got to be minimally effective, it's got to be for real.
       Letting honest, competent cops like Lascano actually deal with crime is one way to do that, so Turcheli makes sure that Lascano -- who has been presumed dead -- is protected and nursed back to health, and can eventually go about his business again: the new chief needs some honest cops he can count on under him. Unfortunately, Lascano has some serious enemies -- which is why it's for the best that no one knows he's alive for as long as possible -- and even more unfortunately, so does Turcheli: he does not last long as chief.
       The chapters in Sweet Money focus on a set of different characters, rotating through them as their stories begin to overlap. The one the book begins with is Miranda, known as Mole, a big-time criminal who has served his sentence and gets released from prison. He tries to carefully adjust to the outside world again, but finds that he has to go for the big score sooner than he had hoped. Still, he sees an opportunity for a promising bank job -- "the heist to end all heists" -- and sets that in motion. It doesn't go down exactly as hoped, but there is certainly a lot of money involved -- and, of course, it's the battered but not completely broken Lascano that gets pulled into investigating it.
       As one of the characters notes: "Our past always catches up with us", and there are a lot of characters with a lot of baggage here. The setting -- a corrupted Argentina -- is vividly revealed in the many almost casual asides of lives ruined by it, from a doctor whose career is ruined because he won't perform an unsafe abortion when ordered to to the many who are basically innocent bystanders.
       Mallo's presentation includes the interesting stylistic quirk of setting much of the dialogue apart, in italicized sections in which the speakers are not identified -- who says what. So, for example:
Is he dead ? Yes, Ma'am. You killed him ? No, Ma'am, he killed himself. Do you realize what you have done ? ... You should have killed him ... What ? You must be a heretic, that's why you don't understand. Excuse me, what should I understand ?
       Since he doesn't rely too much on dialogue, this can be quite effective; occasionally, however, it can get a bit confusing too.
       The middle book in a trilogy, Sweet Money is a solid thriller of a place and time, but it also floats a bit loosely between beginning and end.

- M.A.Orthofer, 3 October 2011

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Sweet Money: Reviews: Other books by Ernesto Mallo under review: Ernesto Mallo: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentine author Ernesto Mallo was born in 1948.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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