Review: Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and anti-heroes.

Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Published by Del Rey August 2021. Kindle edition, 304 pages.

* I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Velvet Was the Night is a beautiful book, from the cover to the pages to the end. There is even a playlist to accompany the book. Guess what? It is beautiful too! Every song perfectly fit! I had such a fantastic time reading this book and listening to the soundtrack as I read. Really felt like I was transported to 1970s Mexico City. The author has an amazing ability of transporting the reader to the books locations. Very well done.

This book made me care deeply about our 2 main characters- Maite and Elvis. I mean, I normally care about the characters, but in this book I was dying for them to finally meet. They were such gorgeously broken characters and I desperately wanted these two lonely people to find each other. They felt so relatable and REAL.

I’m not a huge fan of political themes in stories, not because it’s a bad topic, but because it just normally goes right over my head. I did have a little trouble following along with the historical political climate Velvet is set in. I knew nada about these real life events, terms, or people. While it was a little confusing here or there, the plot is easy to follow along with and there are plenty of context clues / explanations that I never felt like I was lost.

At the end of the book (and in the book club kit) there was a little bit of a history explanation of the events that really happened. We get a brief look at the 1960s and 70s Mexican government and explanations about the problems with protesters and American rock n’ roll of the time. It was really fascinating to learn about this slice of time and place that I knew nothing about.

The big twists / surprise reveals in Velvet were pretty predictable. Normally that would be less that exciting, BUT here it felt like it actually ADDED to the excitement! You can see what is rushing head on to greet the unsuspecting main characters. It leaves you drenched in anticipation while waiting for the characters to finally see the reveal(s) for themselves. What will happen?? It was tense and exciting waiting…

With each chapter, you get sucked in more and more. Where is Leonora? It really sneaks up on you. Before I knew it, I was so wrapped up in the mystery, I could no longer put the book down. The action (and dead bodies piling up) kept ramping up into a very fast paced showdown, followed by a beautifully satisfying end. So very noir! I was in love with this story. ❤ As soon as I finished it I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again.

Another great story from this author. She has a wonderful way of sucking you into the story. You feel like you are actually there taking part in the events. Entertaining 100% from start to finish. Bonus points for a BOSS soundtrack and music references. Gorgeous cover, realistic people, and a very authentic vibe for classic noir. I will be recommending this book to everyone for a while…

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