SAN CARLOS

Written by Neil Forsyth

Review written by Sara Townsend

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/


SAN CARLOS
Jonathan Cape
RRP: £12.99
Released: 21st June 2012
Trade Paperback

It’s 1989, and two people with secrets come together in the holiday resort of Ibiza, setting off a chain of events that will alter the course of both their lives.

Craig Turner is a British body-building former fascist living under the Witness Protection Scheme after providing key evidence in a trial to dismantle a fascist movement spreading across the north of England.  Ana is a beautiful Hungarian woman working in a hotel bar while she looks for an ageing German who persecuted her family in the concentration camps of the Second World War.

The story unfolds partly from Turner’s POV, in second person, and partly from Ana’s, in third person.  Second person is a difficult POV to pull off, particularly when the main character is particularly unlikeable, as in this case.  Craig Turner – and this is the identity he has been granted under the Witness Protection Scheme; we never find what his real name is – is a steroid abusing, ignorant, misogynistic racist thug.  Pursued by a police officer to turn against the leader of the fascist movement he is a part of, he eventually relents to do this when he discovers the man is not actually a fascist but a con man.

Under the new identity he has been granted to protect him after giving evidence in the trial, Turner moves away and begins a relationship with a woman he appears to care nothing about.  The holiday in Ibiza is his girlfriend’s idea (we never get told her name, either), and it is here that he meets Ana behind the bar of the hotel, and for motivations that are difficult to fathom beyond the fact he fancies this woman, he decides to help her out when she asks for his assistance in tracking down the German man she knows has relocated to Ibiza.

Ana is a more sympathetic character, but the switch between her third person POV and Turner’s second person POV is jarring, and ultimately there isn’t enough in the book about her story.  Although I did care about her story, I found it difficult to muster any sympathy at all for Turner, and I objected to the constant use of the pronoun “you” in his sections, inviting me to get into the head of a character who is thoroughly unpleasant and seems to have no redeeming features whatsoever.  

I imagine this book will be regarded by many as unconventional and edgy in its approach, both for the second person POV and its choice of protagonist.  Ultimately it didn’t work for me, but I acknowledge what the author is trying to do with it, and I think it will appeal to readers who like books that steer away from the conventional crime thriller.

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