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Crime Scenes

Latin American Crime Fiction from the 1960s to the 2010s

Edited By Charlotte Lange and Ailsa Peate

Crime fiction has become a key element in Latin American literature. The rise in production of the genre can be explained by an urgency to explore issues of morality in societies which incorporate varying levels of censorship and corruption. Through a focus on the concept of the crime scene itself, this book identifies and interrogates some of the principal developments in contemporary Latin American crime fiction. In ten chapters which cover Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, and generic diversity which spans police procedurals, narcoliteratura, postmodern detection, and historical portrayals of crimes, the authors investigate how the crime scene – which has always been central to the genre and its subgenres – critiques local and global issues, including social injustice, discrimination, neoliberalism, violence, identity, corruption, and memory.

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1 Avenging Assassins: Women and Power in Rosario Tijeras (1999) by Jorge Franco and La Reina del Sur (2002) by Arturo Pérez Reverte (Pascale Baker)


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1 Avenging Assassins: Women and Power in Rosario Tijeras (1999) by Jorge Franco and La Reina del Sur (2002) by Arturo Pérez Reverte


Narco/sicaresque novels with a female killer at their core are uncommon, indicative of society’s gendering of violence which marks female killers as deviant and the macho-posturing of narco-culture which marginalizes women. This article examines two narco-novels about female killers propelled into the drugs business to avenge violence, but who wield power very differently, according to their status in the cartel and the narrative strategies adopted. Rosario Tijeras’s violence is sexualized around her femme fatale allure which undermines her agency, particularly as she is spoken for by an infatuated male narrator. Rosario, controlled by cartel bosses, exercises little control over her textual representation or her life. La Reina del Sur offers parallel narratives: from the perspective of the main character, Teresa Mendoza, and from a journalist who is researching her story for his novel. Teresa thus gains a measure of control over her narrative representation and her life and progresses to lead an international drugs network. These texts turn readers into detectives, not to find the killers, but to unravel the motivations of women in the drugs trade and to debate the ways they can exercise power in these violent hyper-masculine worlds which become, both in Spain and Mexico, an eternal crime scene, implicating law enforcement, local government and any other supposedly legitimate agency willing...

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