I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has no affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical mystery (Noir) Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.
Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.
Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.
Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
VELVET WAS THE NIGHT is a tense historical noir set in a Mexico under dictatorship as various different secret polices vie with one another for power and to control the media.
The book is dual POV, which works well to unspool the mystery and see what the various sides are doing without revealing all. The uncertainly over traitors and moles remain, but you can see the threat of these groups far more clearly.
On the one hand, we have Maite, a woman rather uninspired by her life who accidentally ends up tangled in a photograph hunt between three different (violent) groups when her neighbour asks her to feed her cat, and is very out of her depth. On the other, we have Elvis, a low-level member of one of the less official secret thug groups.
The two characters do not spend any time together really (a few times they happen in the same location without interacting beyond noticing, really, though Elvis is on surveillance to watch Maite.) However, they are deeply and intrinsically linked by the photos they are both after, and the conspiracy/web of secret police.
There’s a lot of music mentioned in the book, a shared love of books and records connecting the two characters. It was a nice touch to bring them into unintentional contact, to show how they compliment one another (they do not meet in the book really, so there isn’t a romance between them. Maite does, though, have a bit of a disastrous love life in the book – nothing and then nice that turns into a disaster.)
Apparently, according to the title page of the eARC, this is the second book in a series called “Revolution.” I must have missed that in the promo (though I can’t find any mention of this anywhere) and it reads perfectly fine on its own.
Read my reviews of other books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: