Quite a departure for Perez-Reverte (not an art-mystery or an historical swashbuckler) - but possibly his most heavy-hitting work to date. After the first couple of chapters, my first thought was, 'this is just like a Quentin Tarantino film!' However, the book as a whole is much more insightful and thoughtful - if just as violent.
This story of the rise of a female drug-runner, told both from her perspective and that of an investigative journalist writing a book of her life, may show the author's past as a war journalist. One comes away from this book feeling that you truly know the milieu, the danger, the people and the motivations... and that likely a lot of the book is fact.
Pulls no punches.. and while a lot of it is exciting and suspenseful, it is also tense, disturbing, and often sad.
One of the best parts of reading is that it can truly open windows into other cultures, other perspectives - this book definitely succeeded in doing that for me.
Perez-Reverte is a master novelist, but this is not among my favorites. I found the shifting points of view too jerky and hindered my comprehension of the complex story of the poor girl rising to become "The Queen of the South." The tale takes us to all the exotic locales one comes to love in a Perez-Reverte novel, and introduces us to his usual cast of equally colorful and unique characters. Like a good thriller on the screen, Perez-Reverte's gets tremendous mileage out of his secondary and supporting characters. Some will love this tale of the men and women in the world of narco-trafficantes, but "The Queen" was just not my cup of tea.
This book departs from Perez-Reverte's historical focus (as found in the Club Dumas and The Flanders Panel). This is a look into the very modern, very seedy world of drugs in Spain and Mexico. I wasn't particularly fond of the end, but the rest of the book was very interesting.
I liked this author so much, I got three other books by him. It was a little slow at first, but once the story got going, it was very good. I love the Spanish culture and this story tells about the drug trade, things I never knew!
This is from Publisher's Weekly:
Readers of Pérez-Reverte's sixth thriller won't be able to turn the pages fast enough: the author of The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion and other literary adventure novels now tackles the gritty world of drug trafficking in Mexico, southern Spain and Morocco, offering a frightening, fascinating look at the international business of transporting cocaine and hashish as well as a portrait of a smart, fast, daring and lucky woman, Teresa Mendoza. As the novel opens, Teresa's phone rings. She doesn't have to answer it: the phone is a special one given to her by her boyfriend, drug runner and expert Cessna pilot Güero Dávila. He has warned her that if a call ever came, it meant he was dead, and that she had to run for her own life. On the lam, Teresa leaves Mexico for Morocco, where she keeps a low profile transporting drug shipments with her new lover. But after a terrible accident and a brief stint in prison, Teresa's on her own again. She manages to find her way, but Teresa is no mere survivor: gaining knowledge in every endeavor she becomes involved in and using her own head for numbers and brilliant intuition, she eventually winds up heading one of the biggest drug traffic rings in the Mediterranean. Spanning 12 years and introducing a host of intriguing, scary characters, from Teresa's drug-addicted prison comrade to her former assassin turned bodyguard, the novel tells the gripping tale of "a woman thriving in a world of dangerous men."
Arturo Perez-Reverte is a great author, the translations from Spanish are terrific, and the reader does a wonderful job. I recommend this excellent novel for those readers who like good writing and many-layered themes. It's a bit dark, as you might expect given the subject matter. Before it I read another, even more dark, novel, his PAINTER OF BATTLES, which I also recommend.
Like The Count of Monte Cristo, The Queen of the South is a story of betrayal and revenge. The betrayed is Teresa Mendoza, a Mexican in her early twenties whose boyfriend, a pilot and drug-runner named Raimundo Davila Parra, aka Guero, is killed when his plane is shot down by a couple of hit men in the employ of . . . in the employ of whom is one of the mysteries not solved until the novel's closing pages. In any event, what matters more than naming names is the effect of the killing on Teresa Mendoza....