First published in Spanish as “Sombra de la Sombra”, Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s “The Shadow of the Shadow” was a book I knew I’d like from the first page. Published by Cinco Puntos Press, “The Shadow of the Shadow” is not your average mystery novel. With chapter titles such as “Death of a Trombonist” and “Look in His Socks”, you know the book isn’t short on humor. Set in lawless 1920′s postrevolutionary Mexico City, this tall tale has you believing every impossible minute of it. The four main characters, avid domino players and best friends, find threads from a mystery continuously dropped in their laps, and eventually they must solve the series of crimes or lose their lives.
The most engaging elements of this book are its witty, clever voice and quirky characters. Even the background characters who drop in and out are people you wish you really knew (except for the gun-toting ones). The snappy banter between the four friends and their interaction with one another zings back and forth and keeps the pages turning. Add to that some old fashioned shotgun shootouts, and you’ve got yourself a book that’s impossible to put down.
My favorite line from “The Shadow of the Shadows”: “My only regret is that you were unconscious the last time we met.” I’d love to quote that in casual conversation, but I hesitate to imagine an appropriate circumstance.