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26th April 2024

Rodolfo Walsh’s Last Case by Elsa Ducaroff, thriller set in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

TRS: Slava Faybysh and David William Foster


Rodolfo Walsh’s Last Case captures the intense, secretive and dangerous world of Argentina’s “dirty war” in the 1970s. It left me in awe of the courage of those who were prepared to sacrifice everything to try to bring about political change. It’s fascinating and exciting but also tragic. You don’t need to know anything about Argentina during this period in order to really enjoy the book.

It’s both an historical novel – the main characters are based on real people – and a thriller, as the author herself asserts. She has dramatized the last months of the well-known Peronist activist Rodolfo Walsh, who was also a journalist/writer and the creator of the true-crime genre. Her premise is, “What if Walsh had investigated the disappearance of his own daughter?”.

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Maria Victoria Walsh did indeed disappear during an attack by the right-wing government’s military forces on a building occupied by left-wing activists, including Vicky. Her father is desperate to know her fate and uses all his contacts, both within the Montoneros rebels, the press and among the military and government organisations. Walsh is himself an officer in the anti-government movement. His aim is to piece together his daughter’s last movements, but it has to be a covert investigation. He must tread carefully to avoid compromising his sources and protect their lives and those of his family.

Ducaroff brings the sinister and claustrophobic atmosphere of 1970s Buenos Aires to life. She describes the setting in detail, peeling back the layers of everyday life to reveal the agonies of the families of “the disappeared” and the subtle clues that indicate the characters’ allegiances. The book has plenty of twists and even though we think we know Walsh’s fate, the ending is surprisingly satisfying. Although Argentina in the 1970s is far away in place and time, there are universal themes and political messages that resonate in this important and entertaining book.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

Catch our reviewer Sue on TwitterX @SueKelsoRyan and on IG @SueKelosRyan

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