Hades, Argentina

Riverhead. Jan. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780593188644. $27. F
DEBUT A death-haunted man returns to the scene of heinous crimes and confronts his role in committing them in this spectral debut by book editor Loedel. Ten years after escaping Buenos Aires during the height of Argentina’s Dirty War, Tomás Orilla, now living as Thomas Shore in New York, is summoned back by the imminent death of a longtime family friend. His feels compelled to say good-bye, but his real reason for returning is the chance he might see the dying woman’s daughter Isabel, the source of his teenage devotion and the cause of his ultimate undoing. In 1976, Isabel got caught up in the leftist insurgent movement resisting the U.S.-backed military junta and recruited Tomás to join forces, using his affections against him. Linking up with a slippery mentor known as the Colonel, he became a double agent, feeding information back to Isabel and her allies while losing all traces of his former humanity. Now, in 1986, with unresolved feelings about his love for Isabel and what he did in its name, Tomás reunites with the Colonel, embarking on an Orphean quest to rescue her from the underworld or, at the very least, rescue himself from joining her in the abyss of history.
VERDICT A powerful and complex novel, told in hallucinatory prose that challenges us to work out what is real vs. what is imagined. Recommended for all literary fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, 6/17/20.]

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