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  • There Are No Happy Loves reviews
  • Mercedes Rosende |  There Are No Happy Loves
There Are No Happy Loves reviews

“Brash Buenos Aires journalist Verónica Rosenthal investigates the licensing of adoptions through the Catholic Church—a story with possible ties to the discovery of a truckful of human body parts being investigated by prosecutor Federico Córdova.

Depressed and physically a wreck, still torn over her breakup with Federico—who has stoked her jealous anger by dating another woman named Verónica—Rosenthal hasn't written anything of substance in months. She manages to pull herself out of her rut when Darío, the cousin of another former lover (who was killed in a previous book), beseeches her to help find his young daughter, Jazmín. Though authorities have ruled the girl and her mother died in a fiery auto crash that Darío barely survived, no remains were found. He is convinced his wife, with whom he was at odds, fled the scene with Jazmín and went into hiding. Jazmín, it turns out, was adopted—one of many babies from struggling families in northern Argentina who were illicitly placed by the church with well-off families, Rosenthal learns. Even more alarmingly, some of those babies were the result of sexual abuse by church officials. Teaming up with María Magdalena, a good nun who became an influential journalist, Rosenthal gets a taste of what bad nuns can be like as she zeroes in on the truth. Loosely based on actual incidents, Olguín's latest is driven by the same sense of moral urgency and enriched by the same regional color that lifted his excellent previous Rosenthal books, The Fragility of Bodies (2019) and The Foreign Girls (2021). Verónica isn't quite as compelling a character this time, her trademark sexual interludes unable to overcome their gratuitousness. But the book does a solid job of connecting the dots between narratives and, like the television series The Wire, between religious, political, and judicial institutions. A solid entry in an impressive series.“----KIRKUS Reviews


"In Olguín’s engrossing third crime novel featuring Buenos Aires investigative journalist Verónica Rosenthal (after 2021’s The Foreign Girls), Darío, the lone survivor of a multiple-car accident, is sure that his daughter and wife survived the crash and that his wife has abducted their daughter. Verónica, who looks into Darío’s case, finds it strange that he’s evasive about the fact that the girl was adopted. Meanwhile, a police raid led by Verónica’s former love interest, prosecutor Federico Córdova, seizes a van that turns out to contain not drugs, as expected, but human body parts and infant corpses. With the aid of a former nun, Verónica later unearths a sinister operation involving the Catholic Church and illegal adoptions. Verónica’s and Federico’s conflicted feelings toward each other distract at times from the strong plot, but this is a quibble. Though this entry isn’t as emotionally powerful as Verónica’s previous outings, series fans will be well satisfied."---Publishers Weekly


"What a wild ride this book is. The third in Olguin’s series set in Buenos Aires, it features the tough-hitting, brazen, flawed, but brilliant journalist Verónica Rosenthal, who loves her whiskey, her lapdog, her ex-boyfriend, and great sex, preferably with strangers. As the novel opens, there is a horrific car crash followed by an explosion, leaving one survivor, Darío, who becomes convinced that his wife and child didn’t die in the conflagration but survived and ran away. Is it possible? Later, a truck is pulled over in Buenos Aires, thought to contain drugs. But the cache is far more gruesome: a load of human body parts. Verónica pursues the missing wife and child, ultimately publishing a feature about a right-wing Catholic organization, the Christian Home Movement, which took young children from poor or single mothers and placed them in well-off Catholic families. At the same time, and unknown to Verónica, her ex-boyfriend is after the body smugglers, and eventually the two storylines converge, as do the lovers. But don’t for one minute think this is some linear thriller. This book ricochets from family drama to Argentinian history to the picaresque (Verónica in nun’s garb, infiltrating a convent) to the deeply emotional. While this can be read as a stand-alone, this series builds on itself wonderfully."—First Clue


"This sultry, glowering crime thriller meets political and church corruption head-on as it brings Argentina to vivid vibrant life." Full of swaggering attitude, this gritty and raw novel peels open the horrors of corruption and exploitation within the state and church. Journalist Veronica helps a man who is convinced his wife has abducted their child and Justice Department attorney Federico investigates a lorry containing human body parts. The separate incidents gradually fuse together and reveal links to people in power that will put their lives in danger. Three stories sit in the prologue, each introducing the main aspects of the novel, and then as the main tale starts they begin to twist and writhe around and through each other. While this is the third in the Veronica Rosenthal Mystery series, it was my first introduction. I’m always hesitant to join an already established series, you’re not sure what you’re missing out on, and may even flounder without knowledge of the previous books. Here, the writing by Sergio Olguin is such that I was able to slip straight into the tale and was immediately captivated. Beautifully translated by Miranda France, you can feel, almost taste Argentina, appreciate the differences and yet feel right at home. The intricate plot and large numbers of characters fell into place. There is a feeling of frank openness, with both the theme and characters, at times almost a devil-may-care attitude wafts from the page. I felt as though I already knew Veronica, she has an earthy, piercing honesty and vulnerability that sat with me as I read. The ending crashed over me, and then separated again in tune with the prologue, and as I read the final line, a wave of goosebumps scattered down my arms. There Are No Happy Loves is a provocative, heady novel fully capable of breaking thoughts and piercing feelings.”---LoveReading


“There’s also a historical basis to There Are No Happy Loves (Bitter Lemon Press, £9-99), third instalment in Sergio Olguin’s series of conspiracy thrillers featuring Buenos Aires journalist Veronica Rosenthal.

A man who’s convinced his wife and child didn’t die in the car crash that he survived, but are living in hiding, sets Veronica on the trail of ultramontane Catholics, ultra-right politicians, and ultra-greedy gangsters.

I don’t think there's a character in all of crime fiction quite like “Vero.” She’s irresistible and mesmerising — though it has to be said, neither she nor her adventures are for the faint-hearted or easily offended.”==Morning Star


 “The third book in the Verònica Rosenthal series opens dramatically, with a prologue of three people’s stories that don’t at first seem to be connected. Dario is about to break up with his wife, but he’s driving with her, their beloved toddler daughter and various relatives, home from a holiday, when the vehicle is involved in a fatal collision. Although he’s told that he’s the sole survivor, Dario believes that his wife and child escaped and he’s desperate to find them. Elsewhere, Verònica Rosenthal has also been left in charge of a toddler – her nephew – and she’s traumatised when she manages to lose him while they are out shopping. The third mini drama features Federico Córdova, an attorney, who is called to witness a judicial raid on a vehicle thought to be carrying drugs, which instead turns out to be full of human body parts. The rest of the novel gradually weaves these threads together, and a pattern emerges linking the events.

Verònica Rosenthal is an investigative journalist, working in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on an independent magazine. In this third novel she has been promoted to editing and the excitement of breaking the big stories seems to lie in her past. Her love life also seems defunct, with her former lover, Federico Córdova, having walked away some months before. Previously, we are told, Verò and Federico have pooled their skills as journalist and attorney, driven by a sense of justice as much as Veronica’s keen news sense. I’ve never been to Buenos Aires – or anywhere in Argentina – and so I didn’t know what to expect from a crime series that is set there. I wasn’t surprised to find that South American corruption, the power of the established Catholic church and politics played a big part. I was fascinated by the sheer amount of realistic detail about everyday life in Argentina that the author provides, as well as the quirky elements, such as the obsession of a group of women with the details of each other’s love lives; the fact that every meeting seems to take place in a bar somewhere in the city and the intense affection the protagonist has for her little dog. All these details make the characters relatable and real. While it could be said that Olguìn’s descriptions of Buenos Aires doesn’t do much to promote its tourist industry, it is nevertheless fascinating to understand more about the way the city functions, the values the people hold dear, and the hold that parts of the establishment have over the lives of ordinary people.

I found There Are No Happy Loves absolutely gripping and loved the characters, who are imperfectly perfect. I was thoroughly engaged throughout and would definitely seek out other books in the series. I think fans of Stig Larsson’s Millennium series will enjoy the Verònica Rosenthal books, as the series share a protagonist engaged in slightly subversive magazine journalism who is committed to shining light into dark corners, such as corruption and establishment-endorsed wrongdoing.

The plot line that links the Rosenthal books is the on-off relationship between Verò and Federico, which has hit a very rocky patch, with each of them exploring other options. Readers will join me in hoping they both see sense and get back together! This romantic sub-plot and the abundance of detailed description throughout are cleverly used to increase the tension in the novel. You certainly won’t want to put the book down too often as you race towards the grand finale, with Verò’s life in danger and evil threatening to overpower good…How lucky we are that Miranda France’s translation grants non-Spanish-speaking readers access to the drama, intrigue and very human emotions that this book depicts.”--TripFiction





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    Francois Von Hurter
  • Mercedes RosendeThere Are No Happy Loves