Paco Ignacio Taibo II first captured Mexican readers’ imaginations with private detective Héctor Belascoarán Shayne. He then increased his popularity with series and nonseries crime novels that push the boundaries of the genre, using multiple viewpoints, bending reality, drawing mysteries around historical figures and incidents, and exposing the effects of corruption. Taibo’s first novel featuring Belascoarán, his iconoclastic investigator, was published in 1976, and he has continued to produce novels in this series. The eighth novel in the series, Muertos incómodos (2005; The Uncomfortable Dead: What’s Missing Is Missing, 2006) represents a true novelty in literature. Featuring Belascoarán in alternating chapters, The Uncomfortable Dead is a collaborative effort between Taibo and the masked Chiapas guerrilla known only as Subcomandante Marcos. Serialized in La Jornada, the novel prompted a 20 percent rise in the Mexico City leftist newspaper’s circulation and cemented Taibo’s reputation as one of the world’s most inventive, articulate and risk-taking crime writers.
Taibo, a naturalized Mexican citizen since 1980, has become one of Mexico’s most popular authors and received many literary awards for both his fiction and nonfiction. He won the 1982 Grijalbo Prize for his creative account of the 1968 massacre, Heroes convocados: Manual para la toma del poder (1982; Calling All Heroes: A Manual for Taking Power, 1990), and took the National History Prize for his narrative history Los Bolshevikis: Historia narrativa de los origenes del comunismo en México 1919-1925 (1986). Taibo also won Dashiell Hammett Awards for the best crime novel in Spanish for La vida misma (1987; Life Itself, 1994), Cuatro Manos (1990; Four Hands, 1994), and La bicicleta de Leonardo (1993; Leonardo’s Bicycle, 1995); the International Planeta Prize for the best historical novel in 1992; and the Bancarella Prize for his fictionalized biography of Che Guevera in 1998. A global best-selling author for more than thirty years—his books are sold in more than twenty countries—Taibo has made inroads into the American mystery community because of translations of a few of his novels beginning in the early 1990’s. The majority of his works, however, are not yet available in English.