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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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5 Cracking Up: Interpreting the Crime Scene(s) in Claudia Piñeiro’s Las grietas de Jara (Fiona Mackintosh)

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FIONA MACKINTOSH

5 Cracking Up: Interpreting the Crime Scene(s) in Claudia Piñeiro’s Las grietas de Jara

ABSTRACT

Las grietas de Jara (2009), like many fictional works of Claudia Piñeiro (Argentina, b. 1960), employs certain recognizable elements of the crime novel. Although no police or detectives ever investigate, this novel has a buried crime scene at its core, around which the plot is constructed. In summary, a firm of architects has rid itself of a troublesome neighbour, Nelson Jara, who was interrupting their construction work by persistently complaining of a crack in his wall. The scene of Jara’s death is the building site itself; his body is flung into the concrete foundations. The completed building then becomes the architects’ office, guarding their guilty secret. I examine the centrality of this subterranean crime scene to Piñeiro’s novel, where construction as/over the scene of a crime lends itself forcefully to symbolic and ethical interpretation.

Introduction

Claudia Piñeiro won the Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in 2010 for her fourth novel, Las grietas de Jara [A Crack in the Wall (2013)].1 This novel – along with three of her other novels which also incorporate crime fiction elements to varying extents, Las viudas de los jueves (2005) [Thursday Night Widows (2009)], Elena sabe (2007) [Elena Knows] and Betibú (2011) [Betty Boo (2016)] – topped the best-sellers list in Argentina, riding the wave of popularity for...

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