If you've finished our "GMA" Book Club pick this month and are craving something else to read, look no further than our new digital series, "GMA" Buzz Picks. Each week, we'll feature a new book that we're also reading this month to give our audience even more literary adventures. Get started with our latest pick below!
This week's "GMA" Buzz Pick is "Velvet Was the Night" by New York Times bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
In her latest novel, Moreno-Garcia, who is also the author of "Mexican Gothic" and "Gods of Jade and Shadow," tells the story of a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer and the mystery of a missing woman they're both desperate to find.
Set in Mexico City in the 1970s, the novel follows Maite, a secretary who goes on a search for her next-door neighbor, Leonora, an art student, who has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
In her quest to find Leonora, Maite finds herself journeying deeper into her neighbor's secret life of student radicals and dissidents.
She also meets Elvis, a criminal who is also looking for Leonora. As they come closer to discovering the truth about Leonora's disappearance, they're faced with hitmen, government agents and Russian spies -- all aiming to protect Leonora's secrets.
"This novel is perfect for lovers of smooth, smoky, simmering noirs. And it has a political element. The best part? It's real," Moreno-Garcia told "Good Morning America." "In the 1970s, the Mexican government organized paramilitary groups to suppress political activity. We follow the path of two people on the trail of a young missing woman who has disappeared with compromising photographs that could bring the government down."
"Velvet Was the Night" is available now wherever books are sold.
Get started with an excerpt below and get a copy here.
After tucking away the groceries, Maite finally allowed herself the chance to turn the key and walk into Leonora's apartment, slowly closing the door behind her. She absorbed the place, just standing in the living room, her hands pressed against her stomach.
The curtains were blue, made of denim, and they were drawn closed. Maite flicked on a light. A paper lamp shade bathed the furniture with a soft, yellow glow. Leonora had less furniture than Maite, but she could tell it was of a better quality than her own. In a corner there was a peacock rattan chair piled with canvases and the couch was covered with a long, tasseled cloth stamped with a butterfly pattern. A low table and two couches served as the dining room. Canvases were also propped against the walls.
Maite looked at the paintings and found them dull: splashes of red with no possible meaning. She was more interested by the photos on a shelf. Leonora and her friends appeared in a variety of poses. There was one shot where she was draped over a man's lap, a cigarette in her hand, her head thrown back. Maite stared at long and hard at that photo, lingering on the man's handsome face.
A fat tabby rubbed against Maite's legs and she shooed it away, irritated by the animal. She wished to finishing exploring before getting down to the mundane tasks of feeding the animal.
She went into the bedroom and saw that Leonora kept her mattress on the floor. The red, silk bed sheets were crumpled and balled up in the center of the bed and on the floor there was an ashtray. There was booze, too, bottles of expensive wine, and a pair of dirty glasses forgotten in a corner. A ceramic Buddha and a plate with half-burnt incense sticks had been arranged atop a pile of books, but for all the Bohemian décor you could smell the money. It was visible in a very modern glass and brass table, the quality of the glasses and dishes, the finely carved wooden box where Leonora kept colorful pills, a bag filled with marijuana and another one with mushrooms.The apartment reeked of money and pot, of expensive wine bottles left open and spoiling, souring the air.
Maite riffled through Leonora's closet, pressing a green velvet jacket against her waist and glancing at the tall mirror with a silver frame leaning against the wall. A long, cream dress with embroidered flowers, completely unlike anything Maite owned, mesmerized her and she also pressed that against her body, sliding her hands across the delicate fabric. But she couldn't take clothes. Once she had stolen an earring from a tenant on the second floor, but only one, so that the woman would think she had simply misplaced it. Clothes and jewelry were too conspicuous. Besides, Leonora and Maite were not the same size.
She put the jacket and the dress back in the closet and walked into the bathroom. Leonora's bathroom mirror had a white plaster frame with tiny white flowers. Maite grabbed the vintage silver hairbrush resting on the sink and carefully brushed her hair. On a shelf above the toilet she found a jar of face cream and several tubs of lipstick. She tried one on.
It was a gaudy pink, meant for a younger girl. It aged Maite, it added years to her face and she wiped her mouth clean with a Kleenex, disgusted by the sight of it.
She ventured back into the living room and crossed her arms, again looking at Leonora's pictures, again fixing her eyes on that one shot where the young woman had her head thrown back. The man in the picture was wearing a tie and the corners of his mouth were crooked into a charming smile. Now that was a handsome man. Leonora might have gone away with that man, or another equally good-looking one, for the weekend. She must be throwing her head back and laughing now.
Maite spun around.
There wasn't anything she wished to take. Sometimes it was like this, a struggle. Others she would walk into a room and she would know at once what she wanted. It had to be something personal, something that reminded her of that particular apartment, so that later she might easily conjure the space in her mind. That was the key.
She had stolen before, stolen from department stores and shabby corner stores, but it had never given her joy. It was a mere compulsion which left her restless and unsatisfied. It had taken her a while to figure out that what she sought was not the object in question, but the thrill of possessing a secret. As if she had been able to peer into the most intimate recesses of a person's mind and pulled open a hidden compartment.
She'd stolen an old Italian lace fan from the lady with the blind dog on the fifth floor and a broken violin bow from the busy mother on the third floor who was always chasing after one of her children. At one point they'd all asked her to water their plants or feed their goldfish, and she'd slipped into their home quiet and smiling, trying on their shoes, using their shampoo, eating one of the bonbons in a box. The stolen item was the punctuating mark at the end of her adventure, the flourish on a signature.
The cat was meowing. Maite walked into the kitchen. She found the cat food tins next to the stove and opened one, distractedly dumping it into the cat's bowl. Leonora had left a cardboard box above the garbage can. She peered inside it, found nothing but old newspapers, and moved the box aside so she could throw the tin away. When she was putting the lid back on the bin she noticed something white in the corner.
Maite moved the garbage can away. It was a small, plaster statuette of San Judas Tadeo. It had a crack running down its side and the girl had taped the bottom of it with yellow masking tape. It was rubbish which she'd forgotten to throw out, like the old newspapers.
Maite held up the statuette, running her fingers over the smooth hair of the saint.
She wrapped the statuette in a newspaper and walked out of the apartment, careful to lock the door and ensure the cat didn't follow her.
Back in her home she put on music. The Beatles played as she unwrapped her new treasure and placed it in the little brown chest in the bottom drawer of her dresser where she kept all the items she'd stolen. Everything felt right. It had been a good day.
Excerpt from VELVET WAS THE NIGHT by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, copyright © 2021 by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Used by permission of Del Rey, an imprint of Random House Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.