Blog Tour: The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende

Book Review: The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende, translated by Tim Gutteridge

The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende

Mystery: The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende, translated by Tim Gutteridge

Blog Tour March 1, 2023


Part of the delight of reading is the travel it allows. I really intended to either have a career that took me around the world or to make enough money to travel on vacation. That’s not quite the way things worked out. Let’s just say I’m glad my grandchildren live in Pennsylvania so I can actually see them.


Today our book takes us to the mean streets of Montevideo, Uruguay. In 1971 a daring prison escape saw a large group of political prisoners dig a tunnel out of their jail and escape captivity. That tunnel may (or may not) still exist, but for the purposes of our story it does.


Ursula may or may not be a murderer. One thing she does have is good timing, at least as far as Diego is concerned. A rocket launcher has blown up an armored truck on a back road of the Uruguayan capital. Diego and his partner, Hobo, were supposed to get the cash and flee. Diego is getting the cash. Hobo is executing the guards and anyone else who might bear witness. When the cash has been collected and put into their van, Diego turns to see Hobo pointing the gun at his face. A shot rings out and Diego flinches–but he is unharmed. Ursula has arrived, armed with a gun herself, and has shot Hobo. She and Diego then flee with the cash, leaving a critically wounded Hobo, and enraged crime-planner Antonucci, a befuddled cop on the take Clemen, and a trail of smoke and dust.


Diego escapes with the money and disappears for a month. Ursula is sure he will call, but she barely knows him and has no idea where he is. Meanwhile, an honest cop (ordered by Clemen to drop the case) suspects Ursula is involved in the heist, a private investigator has been hired by Ursula’s sister to find out what she is up to other than her weekly visits to a weight-loss club, and Antonucci drops everything to find out who the mysterious woman is who ruined his not-so-perfectly-planned robbery.


One of the fascinating choices author Mercedes Rosende makes is the use of the second person. Several times in the story the wall between reader and character is broken down, and “you” are in the room with Ursula, or Antonucci, or Diego, or one of the other characters. “You” are looking around, “you” see the dishes in the sink or the table being set or the suitcase in the closet. You are waiting, you are watching, you are there as the unseen shadow, the fly on the wall watching the action take place in your presence. Rosende (and translator Tim Gutteridge) very effectively use this to draw the reader in and make them–us–part of the action. As humans rather than an omniscient narrator, we have a perspective, a point of view. Some of the action is very clearly happening in front of our eyes, but we cannot see behind us or around the corner. Surprises can, and do, come.


Diego calls, Antonucci finds her, Luz gets into trouble, and Ursula goes under the ground. I won’t give away spoilers, but the reveal of the tunnel comes at the very beginning of the book. How she gets into the tunnel, and how or whether she gets out again? Well, when you read the book, you will be in the tunnel with her, so you can find out for yourself.


The Hand that Feeds You is witty, creative, funny, and acerbic. I may never get to visit Montevideo in person, but the Uruguay of my mind is now inhabited by a rough mixture of corrupt and honest people, reluctant thieves and enthusiastic killers, caring families and lonely souls, and at least one writer with a willingness to shine the light of literature on her city.


Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of The Hand that Feeds You, provided so we could participate in this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende

Book Review: The Hand that Feeds You, Mercedes Rosende, translated by Tim Gutteridge

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