J.C. Gabel at the LA Times:
Rafael Bernal, born in 1915 in Mexico City, doesn't come to mind when one thinks of great detective novelists of the 1960s. There is little about him on the Internet in English, and none of his other novels, plays, story collections or histories have been translated. Although he wrote dozens of books, his 1969 novel, “The Mongolian Conspiracy,” is considered his masterwork, but it was difficult to procure even an old dog-eared copy — until this past fall, when it was reissued by the folks at New Directions.
Filiberto Garcia, Bernal's protagonist, a pistolero, is a man of “international intrigue” and the classic antihero: sarcastic and outspoken to the point of insubordination, a hired-gun gumshoe with a rambling inner monologue that reveals an inferiority complex, and a proclivity for blurting out self-critical remarks, exclamation points bursting off the page in the tradition of vintage Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson. Yet Bernal's fictional alter ego is no doubt inspired by the tough-guy trifecta of Chandler, Hammett and Thompson.
“The Mongolian Conspiracy,” set in Mexico City, revolves around the poor Chinatown neighborhood off Dolores Street.