Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero

Title: The Neruda Case
Author: Roberto Ampuero
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Riverhead
Publish Date: June 2012 (paperback released June 2013)
Format: Paperback

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're a Latin American history fan.
  • You love armchair traveling.
What's the Story?:

From "In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro’s Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature’s most beloved figures—Pablo Neruda.

Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life. As Cayetano fumbles around his first case, finding it hard to embrace the new inspector identity foisted upon him, he begins to learn more about Neruda’s hidden agenda. Neruda sends him on a whirlwind expedition around the world, ending back in Chile, where Pinochet’s coup plays out against the final revelations of their journey.

Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero’s novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era."

My Two Cents:

"The Neruda Case" is a great book is a mystery that stars the famous poet (and one of my very favorite poets personally), Pablo Neruda. I love his poetry so much (my husband and I actually had one of his poems read at our wedding as one of the readings) so I was very excited to get a fictional glimpse of what the man was actually like.

Mysteries are not my usual fare but I really enjoyed this one. Through Cayetano taking on Pablo Neruda's case, we get to learn more about Pablo Neruda and the politics of 1970s Chile, which was a very tumultuous but fascinating time in the country. I really liked how Ampuero was able to weave all of these elements together in order to create a story that will appeal to so many different readers.

The book also has a fantastic setting. Throughout the book, Cayetano travels in order to solve Neruda's case. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but back in college, I had a focus in Latin American politics so that area of the world is absolutely fascinating to me. I loved seeing Chile, Mexico, and Cuba through the eyes of the characters. I thought you got a very good sense of what was going on in each country. This book definitely makes for good armchair traveling!



  1. Oh I love Pablo Neruda! Did you know they recently dug up his body to see if he was poisoned?

  2. Sounds interesting. Have you seen Il Postino?


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