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Books

Book Review

‘The Mongolian Conspiracy’ by Rafael Bernal

1969 thriller finally gets English translation

The best setting for a hard-boiled thriller is a city stranded somewhere in transition between the first world and the third, where overtures must be made toward maintaining a veneer of law and order, while brutal Hobbesian power still reigns relatively unconstrained.

Consider the Mexico City of Rafael Bernal’s riveting cult classic “The Mongolian Conspiracy,’’ first published in Mexico in 1969 and now translated into English. The landscape is a Cold War proxy playground still experiencing the aftershocks of the Mexican revolution and the Tlatelolco student massacre of 1968. The perfect place for a grizzled, disillusioned detective to sort out his issues, both private and professional, using a time-honored combination of violence, coercion, and intrigue.

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