reviews, books, blog tour

Blog Tour: The Fragility of Bodies – Sergei Oluguin*

The first in a series of novels by Olguín starring the journalist Veronica Rosenthal. It is set in Buenos-Aires and has been made into a TV series currently showing in Argentina.

Veronica is a successful young journalist, beautiful, unmarried, with a healthy appetite for bourbon and men. She is a fascinating and complicated heroine, driven by a sense of justice but also by lust and ambition.

Sensual and terse, the novel is also fiercely critical of a system that tolerates the powerful and wealthy of Buenos Aires putting the lives of young boys at risk for their entertainment.

When she hears about the suicide of a local train driver who has jumped off the roof of a block of flats, leaving a suicide note confessing to four mortal ‘accidents’ on the train tracks, she decides to investigate.

For the police the case is closed (suicide is suicide), for Veronica it is the beginning of a journey that takes her into an unfamiliar world of grinding poverty, junkie infested neighborhoods, and train drivers on commuter lines haunted by the memory of bodies hit at speed by their locomotives in the middle of the night.

Aided by a train driver informant, a junkie in rehab and two street kids willing to risk everything for a can of Coke, she uncovers a group of men involved in betting on working-class youngsters convinced to play Russian roulette by standing in front of fast-coming trains to see who endures the longest.

With bodies of children crushed under tons of steel, those of adults yielding to relentless desire, the resolution of the investigation reveals the deep bonds which unite desire and death.

Sergio Olguín was born in Buenos Aires in 1967 and was a journalist before turning to fiction. Olguín has won a number of awards, among others the Premio Tusquets 2009 for his novel Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark Monotonous Blood“)

His books have been translated into German, French and Italian. The Fragility of Bodies is his first novel to be translated into English.

The translator Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires.

She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the Fire and translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this, it reminded me of the Millennium novels,but without sexual violence.

The crimes Veronica investigates are seemingly accidental but turn out to involve powerful and corrupt men.

The writing is compelling and well paced, drawing you into the knotty investigation and Veronica’s own complicated life.

This is definitely a thriller for fans of Scandi noir – only hotter and with more South American. I hope there are translations of the author’s books in the pipeline.


*I was gifted this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.