Uruguayan author Mercedes Rosende’s novel Crocodile Tears opens in a Montevideo prison where Diego waits for his lawyer, Antinucci.
That man walking down the corridor, with his hair combed and slicked with gel, a burgundy tie and Ray-Ban sunglasses, that is Antinucci. The small scar above his right eyebrow, halfway between his nose and his hairline, looks as if it was made by a fist, although it must have happened a long time ago because the skin is tight and shiny around the mark.
Although he isn’t ugly or old, that’s the impression he gives; it’s hard to say why.
Antinucci doesn’t mince words; he tells Diego he’s a “patsy.” It’s hard to argue that this isn’t true. Diego and his partner Sergio, kidnapped wealthy Santiago Losada. Sergio took off with the loot, and so Diego took the fall. But the kidnapping took a bizarre turn when Santiago’s wife, Ursula López offered the kidnappers an even larger amount of money if they killed her husband. But things went south from there with the police storming the hideout, finding Diego and releasing Santiago. According to Antinucci, Ursula claims she never received a ransom demand. Now there’s good news and bad news: Antinucci has worked to get Diego released. The bad news is that Diego will have to repay the debt by being a lookout in an armoured car robbery. The robbery is planned by the revolting Hobo, a prisoner who organized Antinucci’s services. Of course, we know it’s not going to be that simple. Diego has already been marked as a “patsy” once. …
The plot becomes more complicated with the introduction of Ursula López; there are two women by that name: one is the wife, or should I say now the ex-wife of Santiago, the kidnapping victim, and the other Ursula is a seriously damaged, dangerous woman. And this Ursula, thanks to the name confusion, involved herself in the kidnapping plot and then becomes a sort of sidekick to the seriously out-of-the-loop recently released Diego. But can she strictly speaking be called a sidekick? After all. she’s operating with far more info than Diego. Soon corpses abound.
The name coincidence stretched credibility which is a shame as the plot rests on this. There’s a blurb on Amazon that states that the book is a “marvellous mash–up of Anita Brookner and Quentin Tarantino” (the Times.) I would not agree at all. Bitter Lemon Press focuses on foreign crime novels in translation, so as a publisher, their books are a great way to discover new authors. Thanks to them I discovered Claudia Piñeiro.
Review copy. Translated by Tim Gutteridge