Travel writing tends to err on the side of over-sweetened. A “feel-good” slant promises travelers what internet porn promises teenage boys: pure fantasy. The occasional “bad news” piece is limited to comedic annoyances, like the shrinking of airplane seats or the banning of selfie sticks.
Good fiction weaves threads of truth into a fabric of narrative invention. In The Art of Political Murder, Francisco Goldman inverts this order. He gives a non-fiction account of the Guatemalan human rights activist and bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998. In Goldman’s journalistic investigation of the murder and its aftermath, he untangles threads of secrecy and deceit, He then weaves them into a fabric of historical record so compelling that it reads like pulsating fiction.