Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco


Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco
First published in Spanish as La muerte baja en ascensor in Argentina by Emece Editores in 1955. English language translation by Lucy Greaves published by Pushkin Vertigo in November 2016.

My 1950s read for my 2018-19 Decade Challenge and my 11th read for my Classics Club Challenge

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Frida Eidinger is young, beautiful and lying dead in the lift of a luxury Buenos Aires apartment block.

It looks like suicide, and yet none of the building's residents can be trusted; the man who discovered her is a womanising drunk; her husband is behaving strangely; and upstairs, a photographer and his sister appear to be hiding something sinister. When Inspector Ericourt and his colleague Blasi are set on the trail of some missing photographs, a disturbing secret past begins to unravel...

One of Argentina's greatest detective stories, Death Going Down is a post-war tale of survival and extortion, obsession and lies, shot through with some of history's darkest hours.

Maria Angelica Bosco is frequently referred to as the Argentine Agatha Christie and, having read Death Going Down, one of her most famous novels, I can certainly appreciate the comparison. I think Christie's fans would enjoy this plotline, unravelling the clues in order to work out just why Frida Eidinger was discovered in an elevator in the middle of the night - dead. Unfortunately I am not particularly enthusiastic about Christie's novels and what leaves me cold about her mystery stories are the same aspects that have now underwhelmed me here.

Death Going Down is set in Buenos Aires, yet other than a smattering of Spanish street names I felt this story could have taken place anywhere. I didn't get a sense of Buenos Aires or even Argentina from Bosco's descriptions. Readers are given an idea of various apartment interiors within a single block, but that's it.

Bosco shares Christie's class snobbery too. When our detectives write up a list of who should be considered a suspect, only the apartment owners and their families warrant suspicion. The maids and caretakers are excluded. Not that I am suggesting maids and caretakers should automatically be considered prime suspects (although I did watch a lot of Scooby Doo episodes in my youth) but to completely disregard them seemed harsh! (It also reminded me of attitudes in Flesh And Bone And Water by Luisa Sauma.) I would have liked stronger characterisation too although I accept that with such a large cast this probably would have doubled the length of Death Going Down. Allusions were frequently made to characters' pasts and especially their wartime escapes from various European countries, yet we weren't told their back stories. I want to know!


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Maria Angelica Bosco / Crime fiction / Books from Argentina

8 comments:

  1. I haven't read Christie yet although I feel like I should try to do so soon. This sounds interesting but I do think it is strange that only the apartment owners and families would be considered suspects. That is leaving out a large group of possible culprits.

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    1. Yes, and a kinda Christie attitude too. The little people couldn't possibly countenance doing anything like murdering their employers!

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  2. Ah, too bad you didn't get much local flavor from the book. That would be part of the fun of getting a book in a foreign country and a different time.
    I'm a Christie fan so I'll have to give this one a go at some point. :)

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    1. Yes, I actually wanted less mystery and more Argentina!

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  3. The premise had me excited, but the lack of description regarding the setting left me disheartened.

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    1. It's stil a good tale. I'm just more one for setting and description than action and happenings

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  4. Maria Angelica Bosco must be good that comparison is something huh?! Too bad the setting didn't shine as it should have!
    Even though detective stories are not my fav I always enjoy to see a Hispanic book promoted! That's what I adore about your reading taste and blog! So global! :)

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    1. Thank you!! This one I think would be great for classic crime fans

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