Blood Makes Noiseby Gregory Widen Published by Thomas & Mercer on April 30, 2013
Genres: Adult, Historical, Historical Thriller, Thriller
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On a summer’s night in 1955, CIA agent Michael Suslov is summoned to a secret vault in the heart of Buenos Aires. His mission: transport the corpse of Eva Peron to a new hiding place in the wake of her husband’s fall from power. But before Michael can comply, everything goes tragically, horribly wrong…
Sixteen years later, Michael Suslov is a ghost of a man, an ex-government agent living off the radar—and the only soul alive who knows where Evita is buried. When an old friend from Argentine Military Intelligence appeals to him for help bringing the body home, Michael agrees, hoping this final mission will quiet the demons from his past. But he’s not the only one on a recovery mission: two rogue CIA agents are tracking him, desperate to unearth Evita before Michael does—and to claim the secret millions they believe she took to her grave.
Based on a little-known yet fascinating true story, Blood Makes Noise is a brilliant examination of the power of the dead over the lives of the living.
First of all, I’d like to say that I’m not all that familiar with the historical figure Eva Peron. Blame my sieve of a memory for history, I’m a scientist. I’m of the right age where the mention of “Evita” makes me think of Madonna, which is probably not a good sign. But I love thrillers, and let me tell you, Gregory Widen has written one hell of a great historical thriller here in Blood Makes Noise. I didn’t think of Madonna once while I read the book, so you know that I was sucked right into the danger, the intrigue, the murder, the subterfuge, the political unrest…
CIA agent Michael Suslov is stationed in Buenos Aires in the 1950s for his first assignment. Learning the ropes in a city that isn’t foreign to him because he grew up there shouldn’t be as difficult as it is, but the other agents aren’t very welcoming. Michael and his wife constantly feel like the odd ones out, getting the cold shoulder from the agents and their wives both at work and at after work functions. But it’s at one of these parties soon after they arrive in Buenos Aires that Michael meets Hector Cabinillas, an Argentine military intelligence officer. And so begins their odd relationship where Hector will only deal with Michael, not any of the other American agents, and Michael is one of the few disinterested people that Hector truly trusts.
In the dark of night, Hector calls on Michael to meet him to bear witness to something monumental: the removal of Eva Peron’s preserved body from a sealed vault. Claiming that it’s for the good of the country to have Evita’s overwhelming presence—even in death—gone and forgotten about, Hector doesn’t have to do much to convince Michael that he is the only one that can get her corpse out of the country and hidden, and that it is Michael’s one chance at a happy life with his wife with a change in duty station.
So Michael manages to spirit the body of Eva Peron out of South America, but not before his life is destroyed just as anyone else’s who has had a hand in the regime. For sixteen years, only one person knows where Evita’s final resting place lies, and as Michael’s past finally catches up with him, he only has one chance to make up for a life of horrible wrongs.
Blood Makes Noise follows Michael Suslov for the first portion of the book as a CIA agent, and the third person narrative gives great insight into what it’s like to live in Buenos Aires in the 1950s and work as an operative in a foreign country. The middle third of the book focuses on Alejandro in the early 1970s, sixteen years after Eva Peron’s body disappeared. He had met Evita when he was an orphaned child and became fixated on her ever since. Now part of the neo-Peronist Montonero movement, he believed that she was still the soul of the revolution, and they believed that bringing her back into the country could quash the threat of civil war. Alejandro is brutal and will do anything to find her body, but first he has to find out who knows where she is. The final third of the book is where all hell breaks loose as the race to find Eva Peron begins.
The sights, the smells, and the sounds are all described vividly without being too obtrusive while the historical events are peppered into the story without sticking out. The writing is concise and not overly wordy, told in third person throughout with an emotional closeness that left my heart aching at times for the characters. The brutality, blunt ugliness of the time, carefully researched historical facts and people, and sometimes uneasy situations made Blood Makes Noise a tense, thrilling picture of mid-century South America—politics and all. The relationships between the characters were so realistic and heart-wrenching at times, but I could not put this book down. Five out of five for Blood Makes Noise—best thriller that I’ve read in a few of years.
Look for a guest post here next Tuesday, April 30 by author Gregory Widen about where he got his first ideas for Blood Makes Noise. It’s a fascinating read! But first, enter the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win a copy of Blood Makes Noise. Open April 24 through May 12, 2013.