Three bodies lie at the bottom of a swimming pool in a gated country estate near Buenos Aires.
It's Thursday night at the magnificent Scaglia house.
Behind the locked gates, shielded from the crime, poverty and filth of the people on the streets, the Scaglias and their friends hide lives of infidelity, alcoholism, and abusive marriage.
Claudia Pineiro's novel eerily foreshadowed a criminal case that generated a scandal in the Argentine media.
But this is more than a story about crime. The suspense is a by-product of Pineiro's hand at crafting a psychological portrait of a professional class that lives beyond its means and leads secret lives of deadly stress and despair.
It takes place during the post 9/11 economic melt-down in Argentina but it's a universal story that will resonate among credit-crunched readers of today.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 227 pages
- Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
- Publication Date: 09/07/2009
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9781904738411
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by smik
Every Thursday night Teresa Scaglia's husband and three friends got together at the Scaglia's house to have dinner, play cards, and drink. For a long time it had been traditional for the wives to go to the cinema. Teresa Scaglia arrives home to find her husband and two of his friends dead at the bottom of their pool.The Cascade Heights Country Club is a gated community on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It consists of five hundred acres ringed by a perimeter fence. It has a golf course, tennis courts, a swimming pool, two club houses, and its own private security. Inside its gates, carefully vetted residents live deceptively carefree lives, dependent on the high salaries earned by the male residents. The opulent life lived inside the gates, characterised by non-working wives, rounds of social and dinner engagements, tennis and golf parties, children attending private schools, nannies, maids, and gardeners, is very different to that lived by people outside.THURSDAY NIGHT WIDOWS opens dramatically with Ronie Guevera, who should have been next door with the other men at Scaglia's, falling down the stairs and achieving a compound fracture of his leg. Ronie has returned from Scaglia's early and it is only at the end of the novel that we fully understand why, as his wife Virginia is driving him to the hospital, he demands to be taken to El Tano Scaglia's. Virginia ignores him.The explanation of who killed the men in the swimming pool and why, that is, the crime fiction element, seems to take a back seat to description of how this gated community has developed from the end of the 1980s to the night of the deaths in 2001. We see the development mainly from the point of view of Virginia Guevera, but occasionally through the eyes of other women and even the ambitious men.Gated communities became a feature of the noveau riche not only in Argentina but also in USA and Australia at this time.Even today here in Australia new developments, often known as "estates", often have substantial walls but the gates are no longer being installed.So what Claudio Pineiro gives us in THURSDAY NIGHT WIDOWS is, as the blurb on the back of the book says, "a psychological portrait of a middle class living beyond its means and struggling to conceal deadly secrets."Dare I say that this book is not primarily crime fiction, although that is one of its elements?Others will simply read it as "literature", for the insight it gives into Argentinian society of the time.
Review by arubabookwoman
Four well-to-do men living in a gated community outside Buenos Aires meet weekly for cards and other entertainment. Their wives jokingly call themselves the "Thursday night widows."One Thursday night, three of the men are found dead; the fourth man had uncharacteristically left the gathering early. While the novel seeks to answer the question of who killed the men and why, it is not a mystery novel. Instead, it is a social satire on rampant consumerism. Although set in Argentina, it could have been set in any gated community in suburban U.S. Pineiro's sharp and funny prose skewers the lavish lifestyles led by these characters in a most entertaining way.3 1/2 stars
Review by bsquaredinoz
In a wealthy gated community called Cascade Heights (or something all together more melodic sounding in Spanish I’m sure) in the hills outside Buenos Aries four men meet each Thursday night for cards, drinking and whatever else four wealthy men might do together. On one particular Thursday night three of the men lie dead in a swimming pool and the fourth, Ronie Guevara is in hospital with a broken leg.<br/><br/><i>Thursday Night Widows</i> opens with a description of these events and then tells the story of the months, even years, that led up to this night through the eyes of the women who live in Cascade Heights. Much of the story is told from Virginia Guevara’s perspective because as the only real estate agent for the community she sees and knows all, writing many of her secrets in her red notebook, but there are chapters told from the perspective of the other ‘widows’ and several other women in the community too. From the outside it is a community that anyone would want to be part of offering safety, a chance to show off your wealth and the security of only having to mix with your social equals. But beneath the surface there are many tensions including people who have lost the jobs that afford them the status to stay in Cascade Heights and domestic abuse of various kinds. The time period of the book’s setting is in the period following the September 11 attacks in the US when a currency inflation crisis is beginning to squeeze the economy of Argentina and these world events play their role in this isolated community too.<br/><br/>The people depicted here really are quite morally abhorrent with their endless attention to status and the way they will be perceived and their total disregard for the people around them including, often, their own families. But Piñeiro just tells people’s stories, warts and all, and allows readers to draw their own conclusions. It’s a stretch to say any of the characters end up being entirely sympathetic but the way their stories unfold explains things in a way that a more judgmental style of writing could never have done.<br/><br/>Like the best crime fiction always does <i>Thursday Night Widows</i> reflected its setting in a really engaging way. I found it a very easy, quick read although it might not have enough crime for the die-hard action fans out there. However as a window into a community you might never see otherwise I highly recommend it.