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  • Reviews for Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo
  • Ernesto Mallo |  Review |  Sweet Money
Reviews for Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo
'On a rainy day in a city where the mayor can't even get Olympics tickets for his family, it is a tonic to be transported to Eighties Argentina, where everybody important is loathsomely corrupt and the inhabitants are all so good-looking that only shootouts manage to interrupt the characters' constant erotic daydreams. The macho bank-robber hero is called Miranda, but otherwise it is hard to fault this heady story of good men fighting the system.' - Telegraph
'SWEET MONEY is the second part of the Superintendent Lascano trilogy and follows on a few years after NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK. Times have changed in Argentina with a new and democratic leader, Alfonsin, and a lessening of power for the military, many of whom are now trying to avoid prosecution for murder and other charges. Though it seems the police force is as corrupt as before.Lascano finds himself injured, broke, jobless and homeless at the beginning of SWEET MONEY. He cannot go back to the police as his would-be murderers would finish the job and his new love has fled the country and he has no funds to follow her. This leads to him taking a job to track down a bank robber, Miranda the Mole, a non-violent thief known to Lascano who has robbed a bank of a million dollars. In addition, Lascano is approached by the idealistic, young prosecutor Pereyra, who had a small role in the previous book, who wants Lascano's help in nailing Lascano's nemesis, General Giribaldi, also from the previous book.
The stories of these four characters, Lascano, Mole, Pereya and Giribaldi, overlap, run parallel and intertwine through SWEET MONEY. Old scores are settled and favours returned leading to a bitter-sweet ending, though one not quite as dramatic as in NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK.I enjoyed this second dose of Argentinian noir very much and I wonder where Lascano's story's going to go from here. Lascano is an honourable man, intelligent but not infallible and Mole, though a criminal has his own code and is loyal to his friends. Buenos Aires is vividly portrayed as a seething, turbulent and oppressive city which adds to the gritty nature of the novel. SWEET MONEY can be read on its own, but I'd recommend starting with the earlier book to get a greater appreciation of the changes in the Lascano's life and country. I look forward to the final part of the trilogy.' - EuroCrime

'What can an honest cop do when nearly the whole system is corrupt? Argentine police superintendent Venancio "Perro" Lascano is doing his best to bring criminals to justice, but gets gunned down by corrupt fellow officers as a result. While he's recuperating, Lascano is offered a substantial reward to find Miranda the Mole--a notorious bank robber who was just released from prison and is suspected of being involved in a recent heist. Since Lascano is presumed dead by most of the police force and is no longer receiving a paycheck, he agrees to hunt for Miranda. He especially needs the money because his lover, Eva, has disappeared and he hopes to track her down--if she's still alive. The Mole proves slippery though, and Lascano's reflexes and morals are both tested as he pursues him. Adding to Lascano's problems, the men who wanted him dead still want him dead. But the new police chief and an idealistic young prosecutor are on his side, provided that Lascano is willing to testify against one of the generals who "disappeared" people during the Argentine junta's Dirty War. Sweet Money is told in a stream-of-consciousness style; there are no quotation marks and all dialogue is in unbroken, italicized paragraphs. This makes for slightly difficult reading at first, but once comfortable with the style, the reader is placed smack into the paranoid world of 1980s Buenos Aires. Ernesto Mallo has managed to bring violent, corrupt Argentina vividly to life in this second Inspector Lascano mystery.'

- Shelf Awareness
'After the military junta, corruption remains rampant in Buenos Aires in the 1980s, with military officers who commanded death squads still unpunished. Shot and left for dead by a Major Giribaldi, police superintendent Perro Lascano has been rescued by his antithesis, corrupt chief inspector Jorge Turcheli, who's angling for the top job. But when Turcheli is murdered in his office by a rival faction on his first day as police chief, Lascano is on his own, with his life still at risk. Needing resources, he contracts with officers at a recently robbed bank to find Miranda the Mole, a smart criminal who can't give up his thieving ways even when his first hit after a prison term goes awry. After helping a diligent young prosecutor who wants to bring charges against Giribaldi, Lascano finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with Mole as their fortunes intertwine. The second in the projected Lascano trilogy (after Needle in a Haystack, 2010) is another gripping tale of a still-fearsome time and place, told by journalist and playwright Mallo, who was himself a target of the junta'.
- Booklist
'Ernesto Mallo's crime novels are set in 1980s Argentina, where scores from the years of brutal dictatorship are still being settled and victims of criminal gangs turn up next to people murdered by death squads. In Sweet Money, Mallo's Superintendent Lascano is recovering from a near-fatal shooting under the protection of a man who is about to become police chief of Buenos Aires. When his mentor is removed by a ruthless rival, it's too dangerous for Lascano to go back to his old job, and he's hired by a bank to track down an old adversary who's just pulled off a huge heist. Mallo's novels are mordant, political and utterly compelling. - Sunday Times
'Jorge Turcheli is euphoric when he is named the new chief of the Buenos Aires police department. He asks his associate Superintendent Lascano, still recovering from a bullet, to return to the force. However, once an honest dedicated cop, Lascano wants to leave his homeland. However, on his first day in his new job in his office, the Apostles drug-selling cops assassinate Jorge as they plan to put one of their own in charge. The Apostle knows the next to kill is dedicated honest Lascano.Meanwhile, Mole Miranda is released from Devoto Prison after spending one thousand four hundred and sixty one nights there for intellectual crimes. He finds his family rejects him and his best friend spent much of his money. A desperate Mole decides to rob a bank, but that goes ugly. Lascano sees an opportunity to leave Argentina with the bank robbery loot before the Apostles provide him with a funeral.The second translated Lascano 1980s Argentina police procedural (see Needle in a Haystack) is a dark gloomy thriller in which corruption controls all aspects of the country. The two leads appear as polar opposites but share in common how far they have fallen in a system that destroys the honest. With plenty of fascinating metaphors to highlight the broken society, readers will appreciate this grim look at brutal Argentina less than three decades ago.'

- MBR Bookwatch
'A man whose nickname is Mole (and it suits him just perfectly) is released from prison. He's described as your average Joe Public, your man in the street so normal in every way that no one would look twice at him. And that's the point. He's clever and resourceful enough to blend into any crowd and in any situation. Now that he's served his time behind bars, has he become a reformed man? Is he going to opt for a lawful way of life from now on? You'd perhaps think so, wouldn't you?We soon get the background on Supt Lascano. He's known tragedy in his life and therefore I thought he came across as a little vulnerable. Not necessarily a good thing when he needs eyes in the back of his head in his line of work. Mallo uses a very effective technique early on in the book: dialogue is in italics. It's usually street-wise, clipped and to the point and often with an undercurrent of danger which can contrast well with the ongoing narrative. I loved it and wish that more writers would do this.
This story is essentially a gritty, urban tale involving dangerous men involved in dodgy activities with a devil-may-care-attitude about them. All rather attractive to the thriller lovers amongst us, I'm thinking. Lines such as As the orange sun, pierced by the thousands of eucalyptus leaves, plunges towards the horizon, Lascano's chest hurts, right where the pain of the ... mingles with that of longing. give the reader a sense of Mallo's style. As the reader follows the lives of the two central characters, Mole and Lascano, we learn that the ex-con Mole has a softer side. He's missed his family while inside and wants to make it up to them, big time. But can he? His wife is an attractive woman with plenty of admirers. Has she decided she's had enough of being on her own and moved on in her life?
Part of Mole's master plan involves taking a huge risk. He's certainly had plenty of time to think it all through. He's confident of his own abilities but has to involve a couple of mates - will they be up to the task? This will be the 'big' one, the one with big financial rewards to see Mole and his family through to a comfortable retirement. And throughout there's a palpable sense of danger and menace. Along with strong, gritty, no-nonsense language. Given that this is a crime novel I glibly assumed that the title referred to stolen money of some description - a bank raid perhaps. It doesn't. Mallo's description is far, far better and also more subtle. I loved it. The plot thickens nicely along with some bloody violence. It's quite gruesome in parts but because it's an essential part of the story, I'm fine with it. While this is not normally the type of book I'd choose to read, it does what it says on the tin. It covers a corrupt era in Argentina's history and would probably tick a lot of boxes for those who enjoy a meaty, gritty read.' - The Bookbag
'Set in Argentina during the 1980s, Mallo's gritty, atmospheric second Inspector Lascano mystery (after 2010's Needle in a Haystack) focuses on two broken men on opposite sides of the law. After the Apostles, a group of drug-dealing cops who rule Buenos Aires, murder the new chief of police on his first day in office, Lascano becomes their next target. Meanwhile, "intellectual criminal " Mole Miranda discovers on his release from prison that the friend with whom he'd entrusted his money has spent nearly all of it, albeit on a good cause. Furthermore, Mole's wife and son want nothing to do with him. When the bank robbery Mole believes he has to commit takes a fatal turn, Lascano gets on his trail. Mallo's frequent ruminations on ants, love, and food serve as metaphors for the corruption that pervaded each aspect of Argentine life during this violent period of political unrest.' - Publishers Weekly
'When Mole Miranda is released from jail he pledges to never again rob banks and to go home to his wife and child. After all, his cohort in the crime has been keeping the money safe, right? When it is revealed that the lovely young daughter of his friend has been diagnosed with cancer and all the money has been used for her treatment Mole decides one last job is in order. Mallo brings us in to the dubious character painting him at once wretched and loveable, and in fact by the time you think that he is the protagonist along comes former superintendent Lascano, a man left for dead and who has even been replaced on the police force so that he has become persona non grata. Not a bad place he surmises, since it is the corrupt cops on the force that had originally done him in anyway. Like Orwell before him, Mallo is one that believes to be successful you don't follow the norm, in fact, break any of these regular rules. All dialogue takes place in a separate paragraph, all run together, and are written in italics. For a speed reader like me, it takes an immense amount of concentration to read each sentence and figure out when the other party is talking. More than a little confusing. Luckily for Mallo, it does not detract from either the plot or the eloquent language that this fine work of art is written in. When female problems and money become a common denominator the former criminal and the former cop find their paths crossing at every occasion possible, to the point that they cannot deny the bond that has developed and the liking they have for each other. With the final scene youfind yourself whistling the theme song The Girl from Ipanema and visions from an old Bogart movie dance before your eyes. All in all, a most satisfying read.' - Suspense Magazine
'Jorge Turcheli is euphoric when he is named the new chief of the Buenos Aires police department. He asks his associate Superintendent Lascano, still recovering from a bullet, to return to the force. However, once an honest dedicated cop, Lascano wants to leave his homeland. However, on his first day in his new job in his office, the Apostles drug-selling cops assassinate Jorge as they plan to put one of their own in charge. The Apostle knows the next to kill is dedicated honest Lascano.
Meanwhile, Mole Miranda is released from Devoto Prison after spending one thousand four hundred and sixty one nights there for intellectual crimes. He finds his family rejects him and his best friend spent much of his money. A desperate Mole decides to rob a bank, but that goes ugly. Lascano sees an opportunity to leave Argentina with the bank robbery loot before the Apostles provide him with a funeral.
The second translated Lascano 1980s Argentina police procedural (see Needle in a Haystack) is a dark gloomy thriller in which corruption controls all aspects of the country. The two leads appear as polar opposites but share in common how far they have fallen in a system that destroys the honest. With plenty of fascinating metaphors to highlight the broken society, readers will appreciate this grim look at brutal Argentina less than three decades ago.'
- Mystery Gazette
'After being gunned down by a death squad, Inspector Lascano is presumed dead. He has been hidden away though to recover by an ambitious cop who appreciates his talents. That cop is about to become Chief of Police and has plans for Lascano. In 1980s Argentina, just emerging from a military state, there are murky forces still operating in the police force. Lascano's protector is no saint, but his rivals are worse. When the new police chief dies within hours of taking office, Lascano's life once again comes under threat. Looking to earn money to leave the country, he takes on a job of investigating a bank robbery. He also gets dragged back into the case that led to him being left for dead. Committed to always trying to uphold the law, whatever the consequences and the intended victims, he gets drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse, making some uneasy and shifting alliances. Sweet Money is very much the second book in the Inspector Lascano trilogy and I would recommend reading Needle in a Haystack first. That said, this could be read as a standalone, and very good it is to. The story has a gritty realism, with some very nice prose and good dialogue. My sense is that the translator, Katherine Silver, has done an excellent job at keeping the richness of description in the text. The real strengths of the book are the character development, evocation of the history and politics of early 1980s Argentina, its very well developed sense of place, and the carefully structured and layered plotting. There are a couple of nice twists and turns and a couple of lovely sucker punches, especially the one at the end. Like the first book I found the continuous stream of dialogue, where the reader has to work out when one person has stopped talking and another started, and who is talking, a little bit too much unnecessary work. Other than that, which didn't really detract from the story itself, I really thought this was an excellent read. One of my favourites for the year so far.' - View from the Blue House
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  • Ernesto MalloReviewSweet Money