Looking for More Hector Belascoarán Shayne
Barely half-way through reading An Easy Thing (the first of Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s detective series to be translated and published in English) I recognized that detective Hector Belascoarán Shayne was a shoo-in for my moody sleuths list, but since I’m not yet sure how many books in the series are available in translation, I’m trying to rein in my enthusiasm until I’ve done more research.
So far, I’ve found two more for my e-reader: No Happy Endings and Some Clouds, and in among the many books by this author listed at Amazon.com, I noted at least one more of the series in paperback.
I have to admit to feeling a tad ashamed of myself having overlooked Hector Belascoarán Shayne and his creator, Paco Ignacio Taibo II. It was only when I began questing about after international crime fiction subsequent to signing up for the 2014 Global Reading Challenge that I discovered Latin American crime fiction. (There appears to be a rich vein of crime fiction in the Spanish language that I intend to explore.)
As I mentioned in my last post, it was a review in Swiftly Tilting Planet that first caught my attention, but an interview in the e-zine Inside Mexico piqued my curiosity about Belascoarán Shayne’s creator, Paco Ignacio Taibo II.
From Tara FitzGerald’s feature article, “Sleuthing the city with Paco Ignacio Taibo II” (Dec. 2007) I learned that Taibo, best known for his detective novel series, is also a multi-genre writer with books published in 29 countries. Taibo, “widely regarded as the inventor of the neo-detective genre in Latin America… is the only three-time winner of the International Dashiel Hammett prize, given by the International Association of Crime Writers.”
Fitzgerald’s interview also revealed that “one of [Taibo’s] reasons for choosing the detective genre was to write social novels without having to pen a straightforward social commentary.”
In Taibo’s words:
“Detective novels depict reality tinged with the grotesque, with magic and with a strong social burden, which is inevitable because in Latin America the essence of crime is the state.”
As evidenced in my posts on moody sleuths Costas Haritos, Harry Hole, and Martin Beck, I do favour writers who include in their objectives the exploration of social and political realities within the genre of the crime novel, an aspect which makes Taibo’s work all the more appealing to me.
Taibo’s An Easy Thing was first published in 1977, and in a 2005 issue of The Socialist Review the then newly translated novel is described as:
“… a pacy, engaging and highly political novel, full of the everyday tragedy of ordinary lives as well as the thrills of the chase. Anyone who is interested in crime fiction, or just a very good read which reveals something of the fascinating country of Mexico, will welcome this book with open arms, although some in authority have proved not to be so keen.”
Right now I’m in some confusion as to which to read next, Some Clouds or No Happy Endings. Reviewers don’t seem to be in agreement as to which of these follows An Easy Thing, so I’ll be tracking down original publication dates as soon as I’ve said ‘G’nite!’
Pausing to read more of Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s Hector Belascoarán Shayne series, I’m taking a bit of a break from the Global Reading Challenge.
Quite confident I’ll have no trouble reading the number of books required within the year, I’ve decided it’s now only a matter of being successful in searching out writers and sleuths who fit my Moody Sleuth criteria.
Besides, I’d like to take the time to share some of my ‘moody sleuth’ discoveries before travelling on.