Sunday, January 25th, 2009
By Pablo De Santis
The Short Take:
This international mystery has the aura of a classic graphic novel. You can clearly hear the echo of The Distinguished Gentlemen in the name of the central cast of characters: The Twelve Detectives. Set in Argentina and Paris at the time of the Paris World’s Fair, this novel has more twists and turns than the streets of Paris’ Latin Quarter. If you like mysteries that veer towards the odd and intelligent tongue-in-cheek humor, this one is for you.
The plot follows the adventures of the son of an Argentine cobbler as he trains under one of the world-renowned “Twelve Detectives” and then becomes intricately involved in a series of murders in Paris while joining that illustrious group.
A lot of the writing is quite amusing, as the different detectives espouse their theories about finding criminals and bringing them to justice — each one more unbelievable than the last. Common sense does not rule here.
Parallels to other fictional detectives lie scattered about, including a British detective whose visual description is exactly the same as Mr. Holmes. Another fun parallel to the works of Doyle is the fact that each of the famous 12 has an assistant who is not only responsible for chronicling the amazing cases of their detective, but is also expected to project a persona that forms just the right counterpoint to their detective’s crime solving methods.
But there is a mystery amid all this frivolity, and it’s as devious as you can wish. Plus, with so many detectives (and their assistants) involved, it’s a race to see not only who solves the crimes but who manages to survive.
A Little Plot.
To Sigmundo Salvatrio the Twelve Detectives are super heroes and he follows their exploits faithfully. When Argentina’s own member of the group, Renato Craig, announces that he will begin a training program, Salvatrio is thrilled and surprised to be among the students selected.
But something goes drastically wrong when the young students vie against each other in their own murder investigation. Craig loses his detecting spirit and charges Salvatrio to take a message to one of the other of his brotherhood during their upcoming meeting.
Salvatrio journeys to Paris. And, almost immediately, a string of bizarre murders begins.