Puri and her husband Cristóbal are on their way to Ecuador, where Puri is to claim a chocolate plantation that has been left to her, when her husband is murdered by the assassin sent for her. Determined to avenge him, Puri assumes Cristóbal’s identity and goes to the plantation, where a trio of secret siblings is but the first of the surprises…
I was immediately intrigued by this book, because I’d never read anything with such a plot. Yet despite the intricacy of the premise, it is written in a straightforward manner that was easy to follow despite all the things going on. The various storylines and backgrounds of the characters are woven together in a cohesive fashion, and there were even points in the book where I gasped out loud, I was so shocked by the twists.
The linchpin of this novel is Puri, who is a quite endearingly ordinary person. She is a chocolatier who drops everything in Spain and rushes to Ecuador at her father’s behest, even though he abandoned her and her mother when she was a child. Though I am not sold on the logistics of her cross-dressing, her plan did not seem hare-brained at all to me which is a first when it comes to ludicrous plans in mysteries.
I also found the various supporting characters intriguing, especially Puri’s sisters who are given their chance to narrate the novel. I was especially interested in Catalina’s experience of seeing the Virgin Mary and how it tied into the main plot. I did wish however that we saw more of Puri-as-Cristóbal bonding with the pair. The relationship between Martin and Puri, on the other hand, was well-developed, and I liked its resolution because it made sense considering Puri’s circumstances when they met.
The mystery I found intriguing, but the reveals surrounding the burned-faced assassin were a little underwhelming, maybe because of the way Puri went about investigating it. I would have liked to see the ultimate revealing of the plot better developed, maybe more of an explanation of logistics. But I liked that the resolution to the mystery was not the resolution to the book as whole, as in the end this is as much a family drama as a mystery.
Overall, an engaging read with a unique premise and setting.