A killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs who have blighted the streets of the old quarter – leaving clues about his next victim through mysterious effigies left hung on a statue. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom. Which is precisely the point the murderer is trying to make.
Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced and her investigation is blocked at every turn.
Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself forced to question her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him. The question is: how?
This is the first in a proposed trilogy of crime novels set in Spain and will appeal to those readers who enjoy Inspector Montalbano stories or similar crime fiction set in Europe.
It took me a little while to get into the story and to get used to the Catalonia names but once I had settled into the characters I found this to be a compelling and interesting crime novel. Intricately plotted with a fine eye for detail, the author clearly writes about what he knows and because of that knowledge, he is able to bring the sights and sounds of Girona alive. I've never visited this area in Spain but found myself able to clearly picture the place and its people.
The story is complex and there is much to take in, and as with any new series there is a certain amount of scene setting which will allow the books to flow during the follow up stories. I rather liked it and look forward to seeing what's coming next.
Best Read With ...some Spanish tapas and a glass or two of smooth and smoky Merlot
Chris Lloyd lived in Catalonia for over twenty years, besides brief spells in Bilbao, Madrid, Grenoble and a mill in Devon. He has written and contributed to several travel books about Spain for Rough Guides, travelling extensively around the country. Now back in South Wales, he works as a Catalan and Spanish translator. This is his first novel.
My thanks to Ana at Canelo for my e-copy of this book.