Claudia Piñeiro’s stylish novel is set in the claustrophobic, neurotic world of the moneyed élite of Buenos Aires. Behind the walls of Cascade Heights, a gated community, the pampered few live out their lives, indulging in endless rounds of garden parties, card games, golf and tennis tournaments; while beyond their perimeter the economy is in meltdown and the excluded vast majority live in desperate poverty. However, neither security guards nor fences can keep the real world at bay and, when three bodies are found at the bottom of a swimming pool of El Tano Scaglia, one of the residences, a chain of events is set in motion that will rip apart the insularity and smug entitlement of this brittle community.
Nominally a thriller, Thursday Night Widows is less concerned with the ‘whodunnit’ aspects of plotting than with a psychological dissection of a social class obsessed with bickering and petty jealousies as the pillars of their world dissolve. As the financial crash reveals the fragility of their affluence, the inhabitants of Cascade Heights become increasingly morally bankrupt, and the secrets and lies of their empty lives become unsustainable.
Claudia Piñeiro’s atmospheric writing, deftly switching between characters and subtly revealing their inner doubts and fears, feeds a mounting tension as the book builds towards a revelation about the bodies in the swimming pool. Thursday Night Widows is a fine morality tale which explores the dark places societies enter when they place material comfort before social justice, and security before morality.