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Mario Vargas Llosa: ¿Quién mató a Palomino Molero? (Who Killed Palomino Molero?)

Not Vargas Llosa’s best but still a pretty good novel about corruption and other dirty deeds in high places in Peru in the 1950s. Palomino Molero has a beautiful voice and sings and plays the guitar. His tortured body is discovered. Who killed him? The police – Sergeant Lituma and Lieutenant Silva investigate. Molero was exempt from army service but signed up any way, not least because, as Silva and Lituma find out, he was in love with the commandant’s daughter. The commandant is not a nice man. He is brutal and racist but did he do it? As this is Vargas Llosa, we are given lots of possible variations of the truth. Maybe Molero was involved in smuggling or maybe there was another girl. Or maybe the big boys really are covering up, as Silva and Lituma struggle to get the story out of the base. No real surprises but a story well told.

Publishing history

First published in 1986 by Seix Barral
First published in English in 1987 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Translated by Alfred J Mac Adam