From the author of City of Silver, a beautifully rich and puzzling historical mystery set in Paraguay, 1868.
A war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay has devastated Paraguay. Ninety percent of the males between the ages of eight and eighty have died in the conflict and food is scarce. In the small village of Santa Caterina, Padre Gregorio advises the women of his congregation to abandon the laws of the church and get pregnant by what men are available. As he leaves the pulpit, he discovers the murdered body of Ricardo Yott, one of the most powerful men in the country, at the bottom of the belfry.
There are many suspects: Eliza Lynch, a former Parisian courtesan who is now the consort of the brutal dictator, Francisco Solano Lopez, and who entrusted to Yott the country's treasury of gold and jewels; Lopez himself, who may have suspected his ally Yott of carrying on an affair with the beautiful Eliza; Comandante Luis Menendez, local representative of the dictator, who competed with Yott for Lopez's favor, and a wounded Brazilian soldier who has secretly taken up with one of the village girls.
Lynch is desperate to recover the missing gold, and the comandante is desperate to prove his usefulness to Lopez. To avoid having an innocent person dragged off to torture and death, a band of villagers undertake to solve the crime, including Padre Gregorio, the village midwife, her crippled husband returned from combat, their spirited daughter, and a war widow. Each carries secrets they seek to protect from the others, while they pursue their quest for the truth.
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