What is your book about?
The Ambivalent Corpse is set mainly in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our heroes find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust. Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse”. Private detective Roger Bowman and his girlfriend, scientist Suzanne Foster, find themselves traveling through Uruguay, Southwest Brazil, and parts of Paraguay and Argentina to help solve the case. Along the way they experience the local tourist attractions, lots of intrigue, and a complex murder mystery that Suzanne and Roger both play essential roles in solving. The plot races along at a rapid pace that makes this book very difficult to put down once you’ve started reading it. Start early if you want to get a full night’s sleep. This fast paced mystery has plenty of action, atmosphere, and sense of place. While the novel is basically a hard-boiled mystery story, it bends the genre slightly so that it should also appeal to readers interested in travel, romance, Indigenous creation legends, and South American food and wine. The book is getting 4- and 5-star reader reviews on Amazon and Smashwords.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
It took a while for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book. In this case “a while” spanned 12 years. The major challenges for me are finding the time to write and the discipline to edit the dialogue and descriptive passages over and over until things feel right and pass my wife’s critical evaluation. I haven’t needed to spend much time on research as yet, since I’ve lived in the locations that the books have been set in.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
The premise of my latest book is that our heroes Suzanne and Roger find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust. Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse”. I actually got the idea for “The Ambivalent Corpse’s” book title and basic premise when my wife and I took a walk in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1999 and we saw that strange juxtaposition of the two monuments.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
The setting for my novels thus far has been South America, especially Uruguay and Northwest Argentina, both places we lived during a sabbatical I took several years ago. I’ve been back to Montevideo and Salta several times since then for collaborative research and teaching programs there, so I know the locales, the food, and the people I use for the books. Novels to come will be set in Chile, Peru, and Brazil, all places I have spent time in thanks to the various scientific collaborations that began during our sabbatical leave.
I try to write books that are fast moving and entertain the reader, while introducing the readers to a region where I’ve lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers. Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, and Iguazu Falls are characters in these books, and the novels will have succeeded for me if some of you say that you’d like to visit these places because they seem so vivid and real.
How has your background influenced your writing?
I believe my strengths are in inventing interesting plots, paying attention to story details, and entertaining the reader. The science I sprinkle into the books is authentic; I have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and am a Professor at a large university medical school. The locales are authentic; I’ve either lived in or visited all of the places my characters visit.
What are you working on right now?
I’m putting the final touches on the third novel in this series, entitled The Surreal Corpse. In this new book Roger and Suzanne search for a serial killer in Peru and Northern Chile. I’m also collecting ideas for Book #4.
Click here for an: Excerpt From “The Ambivalent Corpse” by Jerold Last