No Place for Heroes

Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jul. 2010. c.288p. ISBN 978-0-385-51991-5. $25.95. F
Set during the Dirty War in Argentina (1976–83), this latest effort from the Colombian political activist, journalist, and novelist combines three stories in one. The bulk of the novel is a sustained dialog between Lorenza Iribarren, herself a journalist, and her adolescent son, Mateo, apparently on a trip from Colombia to Argentina to reunite with Ramón, Lorenza's long-absent husband. During this conversation, the important second plot emerges: how Ramón kidnapped Mateo when the latter was two years old and how Lorenza finagled to get him back. The final and weakest thread deals with the underground resistance in which Lorenza and Ramón were intimately involved.
VERDICT Despite the potentially compelling situations, the novel fails to convey any sense of danger or immediacy. The conversation between mother and son is stilted, used mostly as a forced means to develop the plot. The author misses the opportunity to expose the nasty politics of the military junta; its heinous deeds are mentioned but never witnessed, which seems odd in light of the author's strong political commitment and experience in that arena. Not the best example of this popular author's work.

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