It's baffling, maddening, difficult, violent, obscene, over-indulgent, under-edited and way too long, but 2666 a number that appears nowhere in the actual book is also the best novel of the year. The two central plots of 2666 are, very loosely speaking, the life story of an enigmatic German novelist called Archimboldi, and a murder mystery about the killings of hundreds of women in and around a seedy Mexican town called Santa Teresa. But only two of the book's five sections (2666 is a bit like Dante's hell, in five easy circles) deal with those stories directly. Packed with red herrings and digressions and leads that lead nowhere, 2666 is a work of anger and anarchy that laughs bitterly at the idea of tidy resolutions. It's like a Borges story that exploded. But beneath the chaos is a fanatical order, the desperate artistry of a genius scribbling as his life ran out Bolaño died of liver disease in Spain in 2003.