Book Review: Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Image belongs to Random House/Del Rey.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

Maite and Elvis interested me enough to finish reading this, which is truly a testament to the author’s skill—because Maite was pretty boring, and Elvis, well, there wasn’t a whole lot about him that I could relate to. I ended up liking this read, despite not really caring for the characters.

Maite is a chronic liar, inflating her sad life with falsehoods, obsessing about comic book romances—and let’s not forget her kleptomaniac tendencies. She wants more out of life, she’s just too afraid of everything to actually go after more. I liked Elvis a bit more, with his sad history and determination to do the right thing—ironic, considering his line of work, but he was sadly blind to reality.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an award-winning author. Velvet Was the Night is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

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