Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel of fate, love, and deception spans four decades as two beautiful misfits struggle to make a real human connection despite the violent politics of the Spanish Civil War and then the Cold War.
This is a romance as well as a crime story ... The reader may be ahead of Max here in Sorrento and guess that Mecha, moved by more than sentimental memories, may have a use for him ... Max is a scoundrel of course, but Mecha is pretty tough and ruthless herself — more Katharine Hepburn than Grace Kelly ...What We Become is an admirably constructed romance. It has its gritty moments... To the extent that it’s a crime story, it’s of the old-fashioned adventure kind, with a couple of thrilling scenes... Mr. Pérez-Reverte is an accomplished storyteller, and anyone nostalgic for the lost, elegant days when people dressed for dinner and a tuxedo was obligatory in casinos will find much to delight them here.
...critically acclaimed Spanish author and winner of the International Dagger Award pens an epic love story between a 'beautiful high-society woman and elegant thief,' I’m intrigued enough to open the book ...story begins in 1928 on a trans-Atlantic cruise between Lisbon, Portugal, and Buenos Aires, Argentina; aboard are famous composer Armando de Troeye, who is traveling to Buenos Aires to compose a tango, and his wife, Mercedes 'Mecha' Inzunza ... Also on board is Max Costa, a ballroom dancer... A con and thief he may be, but he’s not alone. Users come from all walks of life, and by the end of the book, readers will wonder just who has conned whom ... His attention to history and detail is immaculate, his observation of people and the human psyche keen. His characters have depth and nuance ...there are a few missteps; the story opens from Armando’s point of view, and then immediately shifts to Max’s for the rest of the book, making the beginning feel disjointed.
Max Costa grows up in the slums of Buenos Aires to become the consummate con man: suave, handsome, and quick-fingered. While working as a ballroom dancer on a luxury ocean liner in 1928, he encounters Mecha, sparking a short but passionate affair ... Ten years later, now a successful thief, Max is recruited as a spy by two Italian agents, and while infiltrating a high-society party, he once again runs into Mecha. Passion reignites, but once again Max must leave precipitously ... the novel’s strength is in its details and its lush descriptions of exotic places and luxurious parties that contrast with political violence. This novel is also driven by the deeply flawed humanity of its two main characters: their desire and their inability to trust anyone, even each other, despite their strong connection ... Pérez-Reverte summons the romantic spirit of an old black-and-white movie: impossibly glamorous, undeniably wistful.