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The Cleansing

The Cleansing

About The Cleansing:


A perfect villain.
A flawed hero.
The good woman they love.

This new twist on the expatriate novel, somewhere between mystery and ethics conundrum, with nods to Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, and Paul Bowles, is about two very different men and their delayed but fated battle for retribution. Paul is a promising med student from the US wending his way through heady, corrupt and gorgeous Mexico City in the 1980s. Victor is a Mexican lawyer with a web of connections on both sides of the drug business, and Victor is Paul's would-be cultural as well as underworld guide, who eventually betrays him. What happens when the former friend reappears twenty years later as a cancer patient in the doctor's pathology lab shows that none of us can escape our secrets.

Flashing between the post-9/11 US and 1980s Mexico, The Cleansing details a love triangle, or diamond, if you will. Adele, a fearless American and photojournalist, attracts both Paul and Victor, and the three become uneasy friends. Mexico City itself is the fourth player in this game, beautiful and decadent, urban and cosmopolitan, torn between policia and narcos, with the division not as clear as the expatriates first think.

The Cleansing is about a reckoning of moral culpability in a corrupt setting. No matter our excuses, the past will come to find us.


Praise for The Cleansing


Named Book Sense Notable 

Pam White, Skyland Books: 

"What a strong book! A marvelously complex story of intertwined loves and lies that unravel through a series of events that change their lives forever, and yet, they somehow remain intact. Trust, betrayal and deep insight into the human spirit. I will recommend this one!"


Michele Leber Booklist:

"Rabasa (The Cleansing, 2006) includes vivid scenes from the Spanish civil war (a significant event in Merce's young life), but his novel is at heart an engaging exploration of the power of art, as seen through Merce's famed career and Lockwood's desire to act as her voice."

"A complex triangular relationship is painstakingly probed in Rabasa's thoughtful second novel. The book, with its nicely ironic title, is quite well written and its three principals emerge as complicated and seductive characters." Kirkus

"This story of old passions newly rekindled and old arguments newly rehashed features sharply drawn characters and intelligent, introspective dialogue. Paul, Victor, and Adele met in the early 1980s in Mexico City. Both men were attracted to Adele, a photojournalist, and the trio formed an unusual friendship. Now, two decades later, Paul (who is married to Adele) is a physician, and Victor, diagnosed with cancer, appears at his hospital; all three learn you can bury the past, but you can't kill it. While some readers might find the novel's pace a little slow, others will relish its rich exploration of love, honor, and morality." 

Publishers Weekly:
"When Victor Aruna's liver tissue sample shows up under the microscope of San Diego pathologist Dr. Paul Leander, the two men have not seen one another for 20 years. Paul, who met Victor—then a rich young man with an parentally arranged, unearned lawyer's degree—while in medical school in Mexico City, takes it upon himself to inform Victor that Victor has terminal cancer. Upon his hospital discharge, Victor shows up at the home of Paul and his wife, successful art director Adele Zarbo, perhaps to die (and to avoid troubles at home). Paul and Adele met through Victor in Mexico City, and the three had, for a time, formed a charged trio. But as Rabasa (Floating Kingdom) deftly makes clear early on, the friendship is fraught and chock-full of secrets that have been on full simmer for two decades—and that may have a lot to do with Paul and Adele's present state of near-estrangement. With coolness and concision, Rabasa flashes back and forth between Victor's almost taunting visit and the months in Mexico City where the three uneasily gelled, building tension as small revelations pile up and giving vivid snapshots of mid-'80s Mexico City. The denouement is quiet rather than explosive, and it suits the scale of this winningly constrained work."