Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Queen of the South is a riveting, frightening and engrossing thriller. It features  Mexican, Russian, Moroccan and European mobsters, expert drug runners and survivors of every sort. It also features casual murder, obscene forms of torture and a warped moral code.

The "Queen," Teresa Mendoza, starts out as a small time drug runner's girlfriend. She is poor, uneducated and just attractive enough to attract her boyfriend who is known as "the king of the short runway" for his ability to take off and land a small plane filled with drugs almost anywhere. Life is short for "the king," and Teresa has to escape from Mexico before his associates kill her too. She finds herself in the Mediterranean and once again involved in running drugs, this time across the Straights of Gibraltar. Her life journey leads through prison to the highest levels of Spanish and Moroccan society.

In spite of extremely high levels of profanity and violence, the book has a meditative tone, as Teresa follows her journey of self-discovery and intellectual growth. The writing is top-notch and the descriptions of dusty Mexican towns and glorious Mediterranean beaches are wonderful. Even the passages describing the torture and murder of various characters have a sense of poetry about them.

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