"Reality often pales in comparison to legend," says the investigative journalist in Arturo Perez-Reverte's extraordinary novel The Queen of the South. But here the "reality" and the legend Perez-Reverte has created around Teresa Mendoza become one riveting, artfully action-packed, unforgettable tale. It's a tale set in a high-stakes, high-risk world of betrayal and revenge, where the only certainties are that the players kill, remember and die. Teresa grew up dirt-poor in a Mexican narco town where breaking the law is a way of life, then becomes head of one of the biggest international drug-trafficking operations in Southern Europe. Given singular substance by Lina Patel's fine narration, she will remain one of the most complex, compelling characters I've come across in years. This unabridged version is 18 hours long, but I didn't want it to end.

 

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