In the fictional city of Santa Teresa in the real-life Mexican state of Sonora, women are being murdered. A man is convicted of the crimes and imprisoned. Women are still being murdered.
I believe an indication as to where that centre lies is furnished by Bolaño’s solicitude for those who slide off the page of history, for example the murdered women who work in Santa Teresa’s factories, who one blogger suggests are based on the real-life murdered women of Ciudad Juárez. On the way through the mammoth work we also meet a Harlem preacher extolling the salvific virtues of duck à l’orange and Voltaire, an Aryan maiden who rejects her father’s Nazi propaganda, and a Mexican policeman who rejects the macho venality of his colleagues and falls in love with the methodology of detection (called Lalo Cura; la locura is Spanish for madness).
I spent a long time reading 2666. Closing it for the last time felt like waving farewell to a friend. I thoroughly recommend it.