Primary Genre(s): Noir Fiction
Published: 17 Aug 2021 by Del Rey
Page count: 288 (print)
My Format: ebook
Do I Recommend: Maybe
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy Velvet Was The Night
My rating: ★★★☆☆
1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.
Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.
Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he watches Maite from a distance—and comes to regard her as a kindred spirit who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.
Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.
Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and anti-heroes.
I recently read Mexican Gothic by this author and I had mixed feelings about it, but I always like to read more than one book by an author if I can. Here are my pros and cons for Velvet Was The Night:
- This is a good example of noir fiction. If you aren’t familiar with noir fiction, it is defined on Wikipedia as “a subgenre of crime fiction where the protagonists are seriously and often tragically flawed” and they are often victims, suspects, or perpetrators. Noir fiction also typically takes place during times of unrest or corruption.
- The cover is stunning! Like Mexican Gothic before it, this cover is eye-catching and kind of mesmerizing!
- I enjoyed the references to music throughout the story.
- Maite drove me nuts. I didn’t like her as a character at all. She was so self-deprecating that it was painful and a bit annoying to read. I understand she was supposed to be an innocent participant in what happened, but she needed to be more naïve, and less disparaging.
- Elvis was underdeveloped. I didn’t connect with him in any way, even via his love for music.
- How many times did the reader have to be told what Elvis had in his pockets? There were strangely repetitive references throughout the novel that felt a lot like filler.
- I didn’t get enough information about the political unrest that was going on to be interested or care at all how it was influencing any of the characters.
- The ending!! Vague, open-ended, and incomplete. So disappointed. No satisfactory reason was given about why everything happened the way it did or why certain people did what they did.
- Was the cat okay?!?!?!
I call stories like this a surface read. There was no depth for me and no connection to the story or the characters. I wasn’t engaged at all. The writing is good – it is quite easy to read actually – although I did find it a bit repetitive from time to time (especially considering it isn’t a long book).
Just because this book isn’t going on my list of favorites, I would never dissuade someone from reading it if they are interested. I do believe there is an audience for this book. If you are a fan of noir fiction, crime fiction, or imperfect protagonists, you may truly enjoy this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the Del Rey for an electronic ARC, which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy Velvet Was The Night. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Click here for a description of my rating scale.