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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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9 Disturbing Scenes in Amir Valle’s Detective Series El descenso a los infiernos (Ailsa Peate)


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9 Disturbing Scenes in Amir Valle’s Detective Series El descenso a los infiernos


Exiled Cuban author Amir Valle’s detective series El descenso a los infiernos [The Descent into Hell] is officially unavailable in Cuba. Contrary to Cuba’s reputation as a society in which violent crime is uncommon, the series provides a nightmarish vision of the island as one in which obscene crimes are committed. The narratives demonstrate a morally compromised and small-minded Cuban state police as incapable of solving crimes without the support of Alex Varga, ‘rey de la marginalidad’, a neoliberal challenge to the New Man.

Valle’s series is in many ways typical of the detective genre; however, this chapter discusses a view of the island which is not often so clearly evoked by Cuban authors, focusing on scenes of graphic sexual violence, and taking into consideration the allegedly factual background of the series.

In a discussion on the obscene, enjoyment, and disgust, I debate the issue of representing violence and criminality within a Cuban context. This chapter asks whether the series’ scenes of abjection and violence seek to pass comment on a nation overlooked for its criminality, or whether such scenes are merely put in place to pique the reader’s interest.

Amir Valle (Guantanamo, 1967–) is a Cuban journalist and author. This chapter considers the two most recent novels in his El descenso a los infiernos1 [The Descent into Hell...

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