No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde in a seedy billiard hall in Bogota than Antonio Yammara realises that the ex-pilot has a secret. Antonio's fascination with his new friend's life grows until the day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette. Shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner. Yammara's investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped Colombia in a living nightmare.
Juan Gabriel Vasquez was born in Bogota in 1973. He studied Latin American literature at the Sorbonne between 1996 and 1998, and now lives in Barcelona. His stories have appeared in anthologies in Germany, France, Spain and Colombia, and he has translated works by E. M. Forster and Victor Hugo, amongst others, into Spanish. He was recently nominated as one of the Bogota 39, South America's most promising writers of the new generation. His highly praised novel The Informers, the first of his books to be translated into English, has been published in eight languages worldwide. Anne McLean has twice won the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction: for Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas in 2004 (which also won her the Valle Inclan Award) and for The Armies by Evelio Rosero in 2009.