From the author of Mexican Gothic comes a noir about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer and the mystery of a missing woman they're both desperate to find in 1970s Mexico City. While student protests and political unrest consume the metropolis, Maite's glamorous neighbor, 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.
... a novel that is immensely satisfying, refreshingly new and gloriously written. Here Moreno-Garcia mashes up Anglocentric genres with midcentury Mexican history, resulting in a brew flavored with love, heartbreak, violence, music and unsettling dread ... the gift of this book, and Moreno-Garcia’s storytelling, is how it imbues this well-worn genre with added strength, grace and even musicality.
Throughout her career, the style-shifting novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia has demonstrated a remarkable ability to employ the tropes of genre fiction while simultaneously subverting and decolonizing them ... Velvet Was the Night her riveting new noir, is an adrenalized, darkly romantic journey set during Mexico’s Dirty War ... Moreno-Garcia keeps us guessing ... Moreno-Garcia always leaves her own indelible stamp on any seemingly familiar genre.
Velvet Was the Night has little in common with the delirious Mexican Gothic. Its prose is lean, its characters are nobodies, its setting is urban, and there isn’t the slightest speck of the supernatural. But Moreno-Garcia, a bona fide literary chameleon, slips effortlessly out of the satin pumps of the gothic and into the beat-up wingtips of noir. The scary thing about this novel is how good it is ... the way that war—not a world war, but the Dirty War between the government and its restive citizens—keeps erupting into their lives, forcing them to confront the reality of history and politics, keeps the novel fresh; in contrast with classic noir, this war refuses to remain hidden. The delectable cocktail that is Velvet Was the Night contains a generous dash of bitters, but the finish is satisfyingly mellow. It goes down so smoothly that it left me marveling at what kind of sorceress Moreno-Garcia must be as she reworks genre after genre, weaving in Mexican history and culture, satisfying familiar cravings without resorting to mere pastiche.