We were first introduced to Valentine Pescatore as a rookie Border Patrol agent in Sebastian Rotella’s Triple Crossing, which the New York Times named its favorite debut crime novel of 2011. His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires, where, like anywhere, justice is a malleable concept, and one learns there are several sides to a story. Read the opening of the first chapter of The Convert’s Song below.
Chapter One: Cafetín de Buenos Aires
The whole mess started ten years later on a sunny fall day when Valentine Pescatore was feeling at home in Buenos Aires.
He got up and put on a warm-up suit. He took a quick cab ride on Libertador Avenue to the sports club in Palermo Park. At eight a.m., he had the red rubber track to himself. His breath steamed in the morning chill; May was November in Argentina. He was not as fast or strong as he had been while serving as a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Yet he was healthier than during those crazy days at the Line. He had lost the weight he’d acquired eating home-cooked Cuban meals while living in San Diego with Isabel Puente. Arroz con pollo, ropa vieja, fried plantains. Washed down with drama and heartbreak.
Leaving the club, he caught a whiff of horse smell on the river wind. A nearby compound of the Argentine federal police housed the stables of the mounted division. Facundo had told him the compound was also the headquarters of the police antiterrorism unit.
Pescatore reclined in the cab, invigorated by the run. The driver was a grandfatherly gent with well-tended white hair encircling his bald spot. His shoulders in the blue sweater-vest moved to the tango classic on the radio, “Cafetín de Buenos Aires” (“Little Café of Buenos Aires”). The cab stopped in front of Pescatore’s building on a side street as the song ended in a flourish of bandoneon and violins. It was an homage to a neighborhood café—the best thing in the singer’s life except his mother.
“That was great,” Pescatore said. “What was that last line? ‘In the café I learned philosophy, dice and . . . ’?”
The cabbie studied him over his spectacles. He recited crisply: “ ‘The cruel poetry of thinking of myself no more.’ ” Continue reading ›