Alex von Tunzelmann at Literary Review:
There is a lot of horror in this book. People are thrown from helicopters into the sea, their arms tied behind their backs. A colonel grinds up his victims’ bodies and feeds them to his dogs. Forché finds mutilated corpses by the side of the road. She visits a prison where men are kept in cages the size of washing machines. She and a friend are pursued by an escuadrón de la muerte (death squad). Later, she meets a man who was a member of one such squad, who recalls the sound of bubbles as he cut his victims’ throats.
‘Look at this. Remember this. Try to see.’ This is Vides’s constant refrain. Yet he permits her to see little of himself. In a tantalising scene, he shows her ‘one place’ he lives. He offers her a bed with a poster of Che Guevara over it, pulling back the covers to reveal an AK-47. ‘Someone else also lives here,’ he says vaguely. She dares not ask about the gun, but mentions the poster of Che. ‘Yes, well, I have posters of Mussolini too, if the need arises,’ he replies.