Genre: Adult, Mystery, Noir
As someone who rarely reads noir books or even anything resembling a mystery, Velvet was the Night is a great book to dip your toes in. Put on the author's own playlist or even find your own playlist (my favorites linked below) and it'll set the mood just right as you try to figure out where exactly did Leonora go and why is everyone trying to find her?
I have read two previous books from this author (Mexican Gothic and Gods of Jade and Shadow). So when I heard that the author was doing a noir book set in 1970s Mexico, I knew I had to read it.
I'm the type of person who wants to figure the twist or the mystery out before it is revealed. Admittedly, I have not read too many books or seen many movies of this genre. Because of the ones I have read or seen have been so obvious, I always found myself steered away from it. Still, I wanted to give this book a chance since I really enjoyed the other two books from this author.
Did I catch it? Nope not at all and that's why I enjoyed it so much! Not only that but if you actually read with the author's curated playlist playing in the background, it really helps you imagine what Maite or Elvis are listening to as they wait in the car or as they're doing other activities.
What I Loved
- The setting. The setting being in 1970s Mexico is so different and interesting in itself. The author was able to paint a clear picture of Mexico during the time of political tension. Having Mexican heritage myself, I actually did end up learning about these historical events and even set a reminder on asking some older family members (who lived at Mexico during that time) on their thoughts.
- This is part of the setting but I really did enjoy the music mentioned. I was never that much of a listener for that genre but some of the songs are really catchy. Each time a song was mentioned, I would stop reading and play it. The scene with the "White Room" song is my favorite since it meshed so well as I read it.
- I was hooked on the mystery. Where is Leonora? Why is she hiding? Where are those photos?
- The story is told from two character's point of views: Maite and Elvis. Sometimes what I noticed in books with more than one point of view, is that the different point of views all read like the same character. Not in this case! In here I can clearly differentiate Maite's thoughts and motivations from Elvis. Even the way they speak and act, I can see there is a clear difference.
- Maite. She thankfully doesn't fall into the "too perfect" or the too "self-deprecating" role too much. She can be self-centered and she can be very judgmental. And yet, I love it! I love that Maite thinks and acts like a real average person. Her exaggerated lies to her coworker Diana so she doesn't have to explain that she had another stay at home boring weekend is so relatable.
- The way the Haws speak. Weird thing to comment on, I know. It might seem exaggerated to some but I knew a lot of guys in my High School who spoke a lot like them (and still do). It unintentionally gave me flashbacks and reminded me of some people I've lost touch with.
What I Disliked
- I felt once the photos where found, everything happened so fast and then it suddenly ends.
- Some of the politics did confuse me. It took me a while to try to understand what Russia, the CIA, the Hawks, and all the other organizations had to do with each other.
I enjoyed this book. I can definitely see myself rereading this book and I actually think I will once it's release in Spanish.
Would I recommend this book? Yes! It's a nice noir book with a good twist. If you're an experienced reader of this genre, maybe you'll catch it before I ever did. Still, even if you're on the edge, I strongly recommend it just for the setting. Especially if you have an interest in Mexico.
Whenever a song wasn't mentioned, I would usually just have 60s Latino or 70s Latino playing since in my head, I would probably hear these more walking down the street.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
A quick little section:
My Favorite Character(s): Elvis. I absolutely adore Elvis. I loved reading the chapters that where in his point of view and enjoyed whenever he spoke of music or his past life.
The Character I Hated: Emilio. I already knew Emilio was going to be some scummy guy just because he suave description reminded me so much of the antagonist from Mexican Gothic and he just gave me that feeling. There wasn't so much dimension to him really but if I had to pick a character that I hate, it would be him!
- Maite's point of view of Elvis playing music in the jukebox while she and Ruben where eating at the restaurant. I loved it and was gushing throughout the whole thing! I love the idea Elvis communicating with Maite through the music, trying to connect with her, without her even knowing who he is.
- The start of the chapter when Elvis arrived at Emilio's house and said it was El Mago's car outside. It gave me chills! For whatever reason, I never connected that Leonora's uncle was El Mago. Once he said that, it made so much sense.
- "There was always someone doing the exact same thing. Like a shadow or a mirror image, like the doppelgängers El Mago talked about. People simple didn't know it. Could be you were cutting vegetables with your left hand while it rained in Japan and a woman in Puebla was doing the same thing, and you both looked up at the sky at the same time and saw a bird fly by."
- "Some people are made to be lonely."