The kingdom of Navarre, an autonomous region of Spain, is an unlikely setting for a crime novel as it seems to be a very small and peaceful place. Dolores Redondo (San Sebastian, 1969) has set her first crime novel, El guardián invisible [The invisible guardian] there, in the town of Elizondo in the Baztan valley. Redondo’s inspector is an attractive woman called Amaia Salazar, married to a sculptor, belonging to a well-known family that owns a big cookie factory. She is an obsessive investigator, carries the burden of a turbulent family history, and is envied by some of her colleagues. The book has the classical elements of a serial killer and the police investigator who tries to catch him; but an additional ingredient of the plot is the role that ancestral Basque beliefs play. Salazar herself is characterized as a methodical investigator, but at the same time as a traditional Catholic familiar with the ancestral myths of her home village; “Elizondo” means “together with the church”. The story has its fair share of sick family relations that include madness, addictions, powergames, adulteries, and post-traumatic stress. Irrational elements also appear. A reviewer has compared the fictional Elizondo with its gloomy background tide to Twin Peaks. A small community in which young people clash with a wall of tradition. Another point highlighted is the description of the sometimes difficult cooperation between the different police forces involved, in this case the Ertzaintza (Basque police) and the Guardia Civil (national Spanish police).
This book is meant to be the first of a “Baztan valley” trilogy. What makes it special among the many crime novels published these days is that the translation rights had already been sold to 15 countries before the book was published on January 13 in the four official languages of Spain, and that Peter Nadermann, the movie producer who made the films after Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, has already bought the movie rights.
[This post is based on Xavi Ayén’s original article “Nace el thriller navarro”, published in La Vanguardia newspaper on January 16, 2013, pp. 28-29.]