Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest book definitely has a mystery at its center: A woman disappeared amid the political turmoil of 1970s Mexico, and two very different people try to find her. But that doesn’t mean you have to expect a typical thriller when you pick up this novel.
Instead, “Velvet Was The Night” is a “1970s simmered noir,” she said. Oxygen digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka in a recent interview.
Dark and thoughtful reading was selected as the October pick for Oxygen Book Club, which highlights books in the real world of crime and mystery each month and offers exclusive interviews, guided discussions, and more.
So what exactly is black?
“So crime is a big category… when you have a mystery you’re trying to solve a thriller… and a thriller is when the stakes are high enough and it’s action packed. … So you got black. Black is really all about character. The stakes should not be high. In fact, in many blacks the stakes are quite low. He is interested in the dark side of the characters, the dark side of life. . .. I think people come up with expectations of a mystery or a thriller, and they look at the dark and think, “What is this?” but black is really a different beast, ”she explained to Gomulka.
“Velvet Was The Night” is set in the 1970s in Mexico City and follows Maite, a secretary who prefers to spend her time buried in romance novels and comics rather than in real life. But when her neighbor, a glamorous art student named Leonora, mysteriously disappears, Maite is determined to find out what happened to her. But she’s not the only one – Elvis, who works as an enforcement agent for the government to crush political activists, is also after Leonora, as she may have crucial photographs in her possession.
The book is also classified as historical fiction and focuses on a very real time of political turmoil and conflict in Mexico.
“In the late 1960s and 1970s … left groups marched and demonstrated against the oppression and excesses of the ruling party, and the ruling party did not welcome these activists. In 1968, when a group of students and people were walking down an avenue peacefully, they opened fire and soldiers shot at them and killed a bunch of people and it’s called the Tlatelolco Massacre, “Moreno-Garcia told Gomulka.”Subsequently, the Mexican government learned of this incident and instead of directly involving the army, it formed a squad of people called Los Halcones. They were trained to be able to infiltrate, torture, kill people for the government, but it was a secret group, it was a paramilitary organization. “
This group, which was formed by both the Mexican military and the CIA, was ultimately implicated in yet another massacre.
“In 1971, [there’s] another peaceful march of students down a major avenue in Mexico City. This time Los Halcones are those who attacked. They started beating people, shooting, chasing people … that was what we called El Halconazo or the Corpus Christi Massacre. This is the incident that opens our novel, “she explained.
For more on Moreno-Garcia’s interview with Gomulka, watch the video above.
Check back every month for Oxygen Book Club ‘s picks, which highlight the best true crime stories the literary world has to offer.
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