The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Published: 2002 in Spanish, 2004 in English

Genre: fiction

Length: 436 pages

Setting: Mexico and Spain, 1980s (I think) to the present)

Interest: The book title started with a Q and was at the library when I was looking.

Summary: Teresa Mendoza is a Mexican drug runner’s girlfriend. She gets a call one day that her boyfriend’s been killed and she’s next on the hit list. She manages to make it out of Mexico and to a safe location (with a job) in Spain with the help of another drug runner friendly to her and her boyfriend. Once there, she eventually takes up with another drug runner and goes with him on his boat trips. He dies running from the Guardia Civil one night and she is sent to jail. In jail, her cell mate just happens to know where a half ton of cocaine has been hidden and no one else knows where it is. They sell it to the Russians and start a drug transport business. Teresa turns out to be an expert organizer and her partner has connections in the right circles. They end up developing the biggest drug transport company moving drugs from Columbia into various parts of Europe, without the law ever being able to pin any crimes on them.

Final thoughts: This was a very interesting book that would definitely get an R rating if it was a movie. Between the drugs (Teresa favors hashish, and won’t touch heroin because it addicts the poor), the sex (and a rape scene in the beginning) and violence, the book has it all. The approach to the story was interesting as well. A journalist was trying to piece together Teresa’s life by interviewing the important people she came into contact with. Each chapter started with him talking to someone, and then morphed into Teresa’s life in that time period told from her point of view. You know she was big and important, but it’s not until the end of the book that you understand why she was the interest of the this journalist.

I pulled some interesting quotes from the book. Including:

It was too late for fear, because fear was what you felt before things happened and the consolation when they finally did happen was that it all came to an end. The only true fear was that the end would take too long to come. (p.26)

fear is the child of the imagination (p.45)

every human being has a hidden story and … if you were quiet enough and patient enough you could finally hear it. (p. 244)

The setting made it a very interesting story as well. You get the seedy, drug underworld of Mexico and Spain. The story could not have happened in a different location because of the impact of the culture on the plot. You also get a different viewpoint of that world because Teresa is trying to make it in a traditionally masculine environment. She had to earn her respect among the other underworld characters, which she did.

The book was translated from the Spanish, but the translator left certain phrases (usually epitaphs) in the original Spanish. It definitely kept the Spanish feel to the book, but I kept wondering how he decided what to translate completely and what to leave in Spanish. Overall, I’m very glad I picked up the book, even if it was only because it started with a Q.

Title comes from: It was the nickname given to Teresa after she developed her drug transportation network.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 67/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and a Q in my Title Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!



Filed under Book review

2 responses to “The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte

  1. I really liked his other book, The Club Dumas, on which the movie “the 9th gate” was VERY loosely based 🙂 QotS has been on my TBR for a while now!

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