Translated from Spanish by Tim Gutteridge

What are the chances of two consecutive reads with major plot lines revolving around characters bearing the same name? Albeit very different plot lines. See my review of Beatriz Bracher’s Antonio for an explanation of the first. In this second, the identities of two Ursula Lopez’s (apostrophe there or not?) are mixed with fatal consequences for one, and the opportunity of a lifetime for the other.

It all starts in prison where the hapless Diego finds himself after kidnapping the husband of Ursula 1. He couldn’t get away because his partner absconded with the ransom. The prison is a rough place where Diego finds himself at the mercy of the Hobo. His early release is not the relief he expected for he is corralled into participation in an armed robbery, One which involves rocket launchers … he’s definitely got himself involved with the wrong crowd.

The backstory of Ursula 2 is interwoven into Diego’s narrative. She is the young fat girl, constantly starved by her father, so that she’d look like her pretty, skinny sister. Forced to raid the fridge to satisfy her hunger, and endure cruel punishment for it. As she pleads and cries “No, Daddy. Please no”, he accuses her of shedding crocodile tears. Sorry, not sorry, I think would be the appropriate term. Well, he will be sorry for this later, when the rafter of steel that this produces in Ursula’s personality becomes apparent. And she will have an awful lot more to be sorry, not sorry for!

Back to the armed robbery. Well planned, brutal but flawed. The timing is off in more ways than one. Some errors are recoverable but not when the second Ursula crosses the gang’s path at a critical moment, and sees an opportunity to make all her dreams come true …

The hapless Diego gets caught in her web, but there might just be a fly in her ointment in the form of Captain Leonilda Lima. Captain Lima is not only dealing with psychopathic criminals, but also a sexist boss, and possibly police corruption. Why else is she told to shut down an obvious line of enquiry straight away? The answer is not given here, but is probably revealed in the sequel, for which I am craving with an appetite to match that of Ursula 2. After all, how is it possible for both criminal and investigating police officer to be poised for victory. But as Crocodile Tears ends, the female antagonists pitching their resourcefulness against each other, that is exactly where things stand. It is a lighthearted, tease of a finale that belies foregoing graphic and merciless violence.

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