As the last surviving son of a widow, Palomino Molero was exempt from military service. Indeed, Molero was not a fighter, he was a musician: He played the guitar and sang boleros to the young women in Talara, a small Peruvian town. Yet he enlisted in the Air Force.
But the relatively sophisticated Silva is not so quick to jump to conclusions. "Nothing's easy, Lituma," he says. "The truths that seem most truthful, if you look at them from all sides, if you look at them close up, turn out either to be half truths or lies" (86)1.
Vargas Llosa, playing on the normal expectations of readers of detective fiction, produces a plot that is surprising for the very reason that it contains no surprises. Yet he simultaneously undermines the expectations of postmodernist readers by keeping his detective story plot on track right through to the end.
Who Killed Palomino Molero derives a great deal of its energy from metareading effects similar to those so important in Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. The text can be read by typical "unsophisticated" fans of detective fiction as an ordinary detective story. The ending of Vargas Llosa's subplot is thus very much like the ending of the detective plots. Silva himself makes the parallel between the plots quite clear: "I've made a vow," he declares early in the book. "I won't die until I screw that fat bitch and until I find out who killed Palomino Molero" (58). 2
The Foucauldian link between sex and epistemology suggested in Who Killed Palomino Molero indicates that these two roles are not all that different. ...