Two Crimes by Jorge Ibargüengoitia

Dos crímenes (Spanish for ‘Two Crimes’) by Jorge Ibargüengoitia. The plot of the story develops in Mexico around the 70’s, a time when many western governments around the world crushed the socialist ideologies of young people. There used to be a constant conflict between students  voicing their ideologies and police trying to suppress their freedom of expression. 

Marcos, a mining engineer and  the main character in the novel,  is not by any account a political leader nor he wishes to be one, but his acquaintanceship with some other people gets him into trouble. 

One night Marcos is with his girlfriend  at a party in their home  with several other friends. It is late at night and an uninvited man arrives at their apartment. The man asks them to let him stay over for the night, and although they only know him superficially, still they let him stay with the idea of getting rid of him the following morning as early as possible.

In the morning, they let the guy sleep some more as the couple needed to leave for work. As Marcos arrives at his office, he is told the police have just  raided his apartment and have arrested the man sleeping on their coach.

Marcos and his girlfriend fled the city and left behind their home and car. They have been falsely accused of arson and domestic terrorism. This is why they had to leave in a hurry and  with no money on their name. They decide the best thing to do for the moment is go separate ways. He decides to go to find  his rich uncle Ramon at his home town in the countryside and his girlfriend goes to see a relative in another city.

Upon his arrival to the town Marcos realizes he is not well received by his family as his cousins try to prevent him from seeing his uncle. Eventually Marcos and Ramon get together and both of them quickly built a good relationship. To get money from his uncle, Marco  proposes him a fake business, which consists of exploring  the possibility of finding and exploiting mineral deposits in an old mine. For a good chunk of the novel, Marcos works to construct fake geological studies  and the proper certification of mineral samples that he  bought somewhere else. Eventually his fake plan is discovered anyway.

Marcos’ cousins expect to inherit all Ramon’s money and properties and this is the main source of conflict with Marcos. Since Ramon and Marcos have a good relationship, the family fears  Ramon will give Marcos too much  money. The cousins propose to Marcos an agreement in which the money will be split in equal parts among them, regardless of what Ramon’s will says. Marcos accepts the agreement and signs a legal contract.

During his stay at Ramon’s house, in addition to spending time with him, Marcos also has enough time to sleep with his cousin Amalia and with her daughter Lucero. Until one day Marcos’ girlfriend arrives at Ramon’s house unannounced and he has to leave the house to go to live with his girlfriend in a hotel near the mine.

A day later in the morning, Ramon is dead and a quick investigation reveals he has been poisoned. Meanwhile Marcos has left the town to go to a beach with his girlfriend. Police and the family point out Marcos as suspect of Ramon’s assassination.  During the trip to the beach Marcos becomes sick and later is admitted to a hospital for poisoning. The police finally catch him  and is kept under arrest in the hospital and later is taken to jail. Apparently someone tries to poison Marcos again, but a guard in the jail eats the food that originally had been sent to Marcos.

Later on Marcos is released thanks to the powerful family’s connections. The cousins want to get Marcos out of jail so that he can execute the contract to split Ramon’s wealth  with his cousins.  The idea is that if Marcos stays in jail, he would be legally unable to proceed with the agreement.

At the end of the book, the family gathers at an outdoors luncheon. Accidentally Lucero’s father –Jim– shoots and kills her with a bullet that was originally for Marcos, as he had discovered  his wife and Marcos had an affair.

In the book never is fully clarified who planned and poisoned Ramon and Marcos, but all the evidence points to Lucero. In fact, in the movie adaptation with Damian Alcazar, it is clearly shown in the final scene in which Lucero poisons Marcos once again, although the ending in the book is slightly different.

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