The Neruda Case

The Neruda Case

A Novel

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9781594631474
  • 400 Pages
  • Riverhead Books
  • Adult


Published for the first time in English, an atmospheric, brilliant novel from an internationally bestselling literary luminary.

Roberto Ampuero’s novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brulé are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro’s Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature’s most beloved figures—Pablo Neruda.

Cayetano meets the poet at a party in Chile in the 1970s. The dying Neruda recruits Cayetano to help him solve the last great mystery of his life. As Cayetano fumbles around his first case, finding it hard to embrace the new inspector identity foisted upon him, he begins to learn more about Neruda’s hidden agenda. Neruda sends him on a whirlwind expedition around the world, ending back in Chile, where Pinochet’s coup plays out against the final revelations of their journey.

Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero’s novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era.


Praise for The Neruda Case

"The twists and turns of the quest through Mexico City, Havana, East Berlin, and La Paz deftly weave the personal and the political in a doleful exploration of the ways in which romantic and revolutionary ideals inevitably founder. Neruda himself…is unforgettably conjured." –The New Yorker

“The summer’s most evocative fiction.” –The New York Times T Style Magazine

“An auspicious introduction….The book is often wryly funny, even in the face of tragedy…. Let’s hope that more books in Ampuero’s Brulé series find an English-speaking audience.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Ampuero offers a provocative depiction of Neruda, a man reevaluating his marriages and love affairs and feeling fresh remorse for having forsaken a hydrocephalic daughter to concentrate on his poetry… Vivid… Although The Neruda Case is a prequel for his international readers, here in the United States, it should be a prologue for more novels from this shrewd and serious-minded novelist." –The Washington Post

"A superb translation by Carolina de Robertis whips the first of Ampuero’s novels to be published in English into a pulsing, panting work." ­–The Daily Beast

“Ampuero, a University of Iowa professor, is highly regarded in South America, and U.S. readers looking for good literary detective fiction might find themselves falling in love with Cayetano Brulé.” ­–NPR

“A moving fictional interpretation of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s final days … sings with poetic metaphor…Read this one as much for the story as for the wonderful way Ampuero has with words.” ­–Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Mix ever-tightening suspense, South American history, the fictional treatment of a major world poet, revolutionary turmoil and a reluctant sleuth and you’ve got a novel that is hard to put down and easy to remember….Ampuero’s prose, as rendered in the translation of Carolina de Robertis, is brilliant….The ragged emotions of fear, of ardent partisanship, of guilt, of — you name it — are registered marvelously….To call his book a noir thriller does not begin to suggest the sophistication and richness of this gorgeously textured novel….It takes Roberto Ampuero to hold such fictitious and actual worlds in resonant suspense.” ­­–Washington Independent Review of Books

“Not just for mystery fans—or readers of Latin American literature.” –Library Journal

“­Glittering….A suspenseful, atmospheric mystery….The English-speaking world would be well-served by more translations of Ampuero’s work.” –Shelf Awareness