Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
Barcelona, 1911: A sinister serial killer abducts the children
of prostitutes, able to move freely about the city because no one really cares
about these children of whores. Only one
man, Inspector Moises Corvo, steadfastly carries on his investigation,
determined to get to the bottom of these horrific murders.
This is not a book
for everyone, and admittedly when I first started reading it had me completely
baffled. Why all the head hopping? Whose point of view is this book from? The realisation that the first person
character is actually Death, apparently personified in a way that is never
actually explained, goes a long way to the narrative actually making
sense. After all, Death truly is an
omniscient narrator, and knows what everyone else is thinking at any given
time. But this approach does make for a
narrative style that takes some getting used to.
The city of
Barcelona comes to life as a secondary character in this novel – beautiful,
compulsive and hard to ignore, with an unpleasant and seedy underbelly that the
author does not flinch from showing us.
It’s a book that is
full of surprises, not least of which is the fact that this brutal killer of
children is a woman. The identity of the
killer is revealed fairly early on, but I learned afterwards that she did exist
for real – Enriqueta Marti was a notorious killer of children in Barcelona in
the early part of the twentieth century.
The author, a
Spanish criminologist, knows this particular case in intimate detail. This book is not so much about the plot,
being based as it is on an infamous case known to everyone in Spain, but about
the creative interpretation.
It’s not a book that
will appeal to all. Gothic horror fans,
Spanish history fans, and even magical realism fans, will no doubt find much to
like. Fans of the straight crime novel,
however, might be somewhat mystified. But whether it’s your sort of novel or not, this book is rather like
Barcelona itself – it gets under your skin and has you thinking about it long
after you’ve left it.