John Segovia is many things - American, corpulent, shambolic, and obsessed with the history of South America. This history is what drew him to the city of Piura in the coastal desert of Peru, where every grain of sand teems with stories of Incas and conquistadors. Here, where past and present intermesh, he thought he'd finally found a life for himself. He met Pilar and he married her; they had a baby girl. But John is now a widower - and a killer remains at large. A foreigner in a riotous, mythic city, John must somehow learn to be a father to his infant daughter, to cope with the visceral trauma of loss, and to suppress a voracious desire for impossible revenge. His story features an extraordinary cast of characters (a one-eyed nanny, a collective of monk-like vigilantes, the conquistadors themselves); it travels centuries within sentences, encompasses slapstick and heartbreak, and takes John from bordellos to bat-infested cinemas and ancient burial grounds in his attempts to 'beat back death'. Alive with risk and innovation, "Pacazo" is a novel which maximises the freedom of fiction. It gives living form to anger and fear and desire, to courage and kindness, strength and love, and tells a story as richly entertaining as it is moving.