In this remarkably nuanced novel, both a gripping detective story and a passionate, devastating tale of eros and insanity in Colombia, internationally acclaimed author Laura Restrepo delves into the minds of four characters. There's Agustina, a beautiful woman from an upper-class family who is caught in the throes of madness; her husband Aguilar, a man passionately in love with his wife and determined to rescue her from insanity; Agustina's former lover Midas, a drug-trafficker and money-launderer; and Nicolás, Agustina's grandfather. Through the blend of these distinct voices, Restrepo creates a searing portrait of a society battered by war and corruption, as well as an intimate look at the daily lives of people struggling to stay sane in an unstable reality.
Aguilar, a former literature professor who now "delivers dog food in order to survive" returns from a trip to find his beloved wife, Agustina, has "transformed into someone terrified and terrifying"; his subsequent investigation into what happened forms the plot of this complex and captivating novel, Restrepo's sixth novel to be translated into English (after Isle of Passion). In reconstructing Agustina's privileged but troubled past, the novel intertwines several narratives, including the braggadocio of Agustina's former lover and Pablo Escobar money launderer Midas McAlister; the tragic tale of her German grandfather, Nicholas Portulinus; and Agustina's own pained reminiscences of a childhood centered around an aloof and domineering father whose affection she tried to win and from whose abuse she tried to protect her younger brother. It seems that Agustina's madness sprouts from a denial of violence and obvious truths a denial that is shown here to similarly corrupt Colombian society. It has all the tension of a great detective story, and Wimmer's translation captures every tormented bit of Aguilar's desperation.