By J. H. Bográn
In AN INCONSEQUENTIAL MURDER, the murder of a young systems engineer seems inconsequential: just another death in the brutal “Drug Wars” going on in Mexico. But, detective Guillermo Lombardo’s investigation reveals that there is much more to the case. He finds that there is another “war” going on. It is between those that would have drugs legalized and those that oppose the move; and it is just as deadly as the war between the drug cartels.
What inspired the premise for AN INCONSEQUENTIAL MURDER?
Some years ago, I knew a young engineer who was in charge of software acquisitions for the State University in Monterrey, Mexico. He was also a systems engineer who did various jobs at the University’s large, central computing site. He left the computing site late one night and never got home. His body was found, by the railroad tracks that cross the central part of the city, early the next morning. He had been badly beaten and then left on the track. He was beheaded by a freight train that came into the city around 4:00 AM. The motive for the murder, the killer, or killers of the young man were never discovered. I also knew quite well his cousin who was a friend of mine and the head of the University’s Central Computing site. He was also perplexed by his cousin’s murder and said he had no clue what could have motivated it. The murdered man was, by all accounts, a nice, quiet, hard-working family man. Robbery was ruled out because nothing had been taken from the body. A real mystery.
Tell us a bit about your main character, Detective Lombardo?
Detective Guillermo Lombardo is a composite of two detectives I knew in Mexico. One of them is the model for the physical appearance of Lombardo. I came into contact with the real-life detective when someone broke into my office (I was director of a research center and science museum at the time), and stole some electronic equipment (TV, satellite dish box, etc). This detective was the chain-smoking of cheap cigarettes, thin, dark-suit wearing model I used to describe Lombardo. The second model was a detective that came to me asking for help (I was quite a computer geek at the time) to trace the provenance of emails the fugitive dean of the State University was sending to his sister, who lived in Monterrey. (The dean had been accused of going off with a lot of the University’s money.)
What kind of research did you have to do?
I interviewed people who had known the victim. I also talked to his widow. The rest of the story is built around actual historical facts that happened as the “War on Drugs” and the huge corruption/political scandals were irrupting in Mexico during the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
What can you tell us about the antagonist?
Yes, the evil DEA agent who is indirectly responsible for the murder of the young man is modeled on a DEA agent I knew and had a brief contact with when I worked in Guadalajara, a city that was at that time beginning to experience the mayhem caused by the growing power of the drug cartels. He was a real “cowboy” (slang for a man who likes to shoot first and ask questions later), a modern day Rooster Cogburn.
You worked in the past doing text translations. Has that job had any influence on your novel writing? And by the way, what languages do you translate?
Yes, translation has had a lot of influence. First of all, it has accustomed me to writing every day. I try to write at least 2000 words a day. It also helps me when I translate my novels. The slow, painstaking word that is translation allows me to have a very good, detailed look at what I have written. It leads me to modify, clarify, and in general proof-read my novel. I translate from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. I also translate from French into English and Spanish.
What are you working on now?
I am working on several things. The second “Lombardo” novel is being prepared for publishing. THE MINISTER’S SECRET happens in Paris and it concerns the recovery of art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families during WWII. I am also working on a third novel, THE RUINOUS LIFE OF DOCTOR RODRIGUEZ, the story of a ruin of a man, the ruin of a city, and the ruin of a country, which run in parallel and that have similar causes and circumstances. I will also want to translate THE MINISTER’S SECRET into Spanish and French.
Any conferences or presentations for promotion?
I am afraid not. I live in southern France; therefore, I am a bit out of the promotion/presentation loop, except for anything I can do via the Internet, such as this interview!
In your own words, what’s the book really about?
Yes, AN INCONSEQUENTIAL MURDER is really about the issue of drug legalization. The plot revolves around a “war” being fought by a group of politicians, government officials, and others who want drugs legalized, and those who oppose them. The later include agencies of the US government like the DEA. This is an important issue that is just starting to be discussed in the US, the greatest consumer of drugs in the world.
Rodolfo Peña is a professional translator and writer who lives in southern France. He has a wife, a cat, and a small garden which he tends badly. Besides writing and translating, he occasionally splashes watercolor paint on papers and pretends they are paintings.