I thought I wasn't going to like this book. I'd rather read about a protagonist I admire, or at least one I might like as a person. There's not a lot to like about Lupita at the beginning of the story, and the first few chapters show all the signs of disintegrating into a preachy literary slice-of-life tale.
But Laura Esquivel surprised me. The seemingly random series of events surrounding the death of a local political figure start to shape up into a compelling mystery. As Lupita stumbles through her days, the reader gets a sense of a vivid social climate surrounding her, and the whole story is saturated with the cultural details of everyday life. It becomes clear she's in a lot of danger, and she barely escapes with her life on more than one occasion.
It's a murder mystery made of feeling as well as deduction. I've read a lot of detective fiction where the main character is coldly rational. Lupita is anything but rational, but she has a powerful intuition that serves her just as well. It was a breath of fresh air to realize that the author was deftly illustrating how it could be possible to solve a crime without high education or legal brilliance in an environment where the police are just as corrupt as the criminals. The character development is handled with grace and realism, and I really had to take back my initial judgements about Lupita's character.
( Spoilery discussion of the endingCollapse )
Regardless, I really enjoyed the book and I'd recommend it to people who like mysteries with a dark or unusual bent.