Taut, acidly witty, menacingly erotic, and often absolutely terrifying: this is a literary thriller of propulsive force that introduces a powerful storyteller.
*An Edgar Finalist for Best First Novel
*Semifinalist for the 2017 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
It begins when a meth-addicted grave robber unearths the death mask of Montezuma, setting off a violent struggle for its possession. There is the drug lord who employs him, who would kill for that mask. There is the expat American collector, sinister and possibly mad. There is the greatly respected curator, who for a fee will provide provenances for his country’s looted artifacts, and his long-suffering housekeeper, a deeply religious lesbian in a culture of machismo, who despises her patron. And there is the looter himself, who has stolen the mask and is now running for his life.
Above all, there is Anna Ramsey, an American with a history of bad choices, who has hidden behind a mask all her adult life. A deeply wounded woman, Anna knows that masks protect and conceal. Anna is a heroine for our times, as she searches for the courage to remove her mask and show her true face.
Set in Oaxaca, Wright's (Learning to Float) thrilling debut novel introduces Anna, a woman from the U.S. who, along with several others, pursues the ancient and extremely valuable funerary mask of Montezuma. Seeking to redeem her parents' research (her father was a discredited art collector), Anna throws herself into the corrupt and dangerous world of their past. She refuses to give up her search, even after she becomes the target of an infamous drug lord. This is not just a tale of filial redemption; it's a tale of the desire to hide, and to transform into something beyond oneself. "I belong in this place where I do not belong," Anna thinks. Each flawed character becomes linked in their desperation for a prize that promises another chance at love, pride, piety, or survival. "With that mask I could look God in the face," the drug lord announces. A deep look at what it means to be masked, Wright's novel is a worthwhile read for anyone in search of an authentically flawed heroine who learns to remove her own mask in a world where remaining hidden feels like the safest option.
Beautifully and colorfully written. I grew to either absolutely love or absolutely hate the characters. She really painted a picture of the beauty and mystery of the Oaxaca setting. I can't wait to read more from Lili Wright!