3 out of 4 stars
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Riddle me this: what do a ruthless dictator, a college druggie, and a suicide note have in common? The answer’s simple: a connection to a Pinochet Plot. A fast-paced political thriller with an interesting premise and a main cast filled with people of colour, David Myles Robinson’s The Pinochet Plot is a refreshing read—and, considering the state of today’s social politics, an incredibly important story.
Let’s begin with a summary of the book. Our main character, Will Muñoz, is a successful attorney experiencing a bit of a mid-life crisis. Just as he’s about to take a break from his work at his law firm, the tragic news comes in that his mother has committed suicide…leaving behind only a single suicide note. The contents of that note? That she believes Will’s late father—previously thought to have been murdered in a burglary gone wrong—was assassinated by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for having written a novel depicting his depravity in all its gory glory.
The responsibility to solve the mystery once and for all falls to Will, but starting investigations means heading straight for trouble…
In other words, The Pinochet Plot is about Will investigating Pinochet’s plot to murder the man who wrote a literal Pinochet plot. (If that wordplay doesn’t deserve a hat-tip, I don’t know what does.) However, the book isn’t just a political thriller—it’s also a journey of realisations and self-discovery which readers embark on with our protagonist as he grows, falls in love, and ultimately finds closure for himself.
Puns, obviously, aren’t the only thing Robinson gets right in this book. The pacing is also done pretty well and gives readers time to get to know the main characters, delving deeper into their histories to show us previously-established relationships and connections. This helps ground the story, making it more realistic. The characters are also well-characterised; most of them have distinct personalities or ways of speaking, which makes the story that much more vivid. It definitely makes for a more immersive reading experience, which is undoubtedly a plus point!
Additionally, I really liked the representation in the book. The character cast is made up of people of colour, and there is representation for the LGBTQ community as well. The lives of the female characters don’t revolve around men either, which I was very happy to note while reading. The Pinochet Plot also takes a very clear stand on racism and other forms of discrimination, i.e. that they should not be condoned, which is a truly important message considering the society we live in today—so kudos to Robinson for that!
However, while there are many good things to be said about this book, I must admit that the writing falls a little flat when it comes to delivering emotional impact. Robinson’s words do a very good job of describing and explaining—his settings are detailed, and his sentences are clear—but as always, telling is not showing. As a result of this writing style, I couldn’t really empathise with the characters. This lack of emotional impact also meant, unfortunately, that I was not especially invested when it came to the romance. (Of course, it was a side plot, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important, right?) That isn’t to say that The Pinochet Plot doesn’t have impactful scenes—there are one or two that remind me in particular of scenes from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, a book which definitely left me feeling shaken.
Overall, I rate The Pinochet Plot 3 out of 4 stars. Although Robinson’s writing style isn’t quite suited to writing emotionally impactful scenes, it does a good job of carrying the story forward. The book also seems to be professionally edited! As such, I really would recommend this novel to those of you who like political thrillers—The Pinochet Plot is a good read if you’re reading for the plot.
The Pinochet Plot
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