Snippet: José C. Vales’ “Celeste 65”

José C. Vales, Celeste 65, 2017, 592 p.

publisher’s summary:

A new literary comedy set in 1960s Nice

In the 1960s, Linton Blint, a man with a grey life, embittered by his lack of character and mistreated by his family, sees himself forced to flee from England.

Though he is terrified by a world that he mistrusts and that he doesn’t know (the pop and rebel one of the 1960s), he gets to the city of Nice, on the French riviera, where he is marveled by all the brilliance and glow of summer in one of the most glamorous cities of the world, encircled by pop music, very angry fashion and movie stars.

He stays at the luxurious hotel Negresco, and without really understanding how, he ends up involved in a delirious intrigue in which there mix the follies of the 60s with the large scale political conflicts that also characterized this epoch.

Entangled in a cruel criminal spiderweb, Linton will have to overcome his fears and his bewilderment to become a hero, both in love and in the brilliant society of Nice.


from a review by Lilian Neuman:

… The readers will believe in this gallery of formidable and intriguing Cote d’Azur characters. …

A good affair with lethal ladies and bodyguards. And that flows in this foam of the days that José Vales (Zamora, 1965) –translator and Nadal prize winner with Cabaret Biarritz—  captures with irony and humor, with talent and love for a time and a place. …


Sounds like good entertainment for dark winter days; and the book has got a nice cover. There is a 2015 post on Vales’ earlier, prize-winning novel.


SOURCE: Destino (Planeta, publisher); review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, Nov. 4, 2017, p. 8 [printed edition]


Snippet: Sánchez Pardos’ “Lady of the Well”

Daniel Sánchez Pardos, La Dama del Pozo [The Lady of the Well], 2017, 448 p.

Another novel set in 19th century Barcelona, and Planeta, the publisher, offers a summary in English on its foreign rights pages.

“… a very good piece of crime fiction that glows, among other reasons, due to its great protagonist.”

Lilian Neumann in her review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, July 22, 2017, pp. 6-7.

Snippet: Torrent’s “Individuals like us”

Ferran Torrent, Individus com nosaltres [Individuals like us], 2017, 368 p.

publisher’s summary:

The best Ferran Torrent is here again with a new, frenetic book. The implacable portrait of the daily life of a country at a certain time.

It’s the beginning of 2015 and the political panorama in Valencia will shortly change in ways unheard of during decades… but the people who live against the stream cannot and don’t want to stop doing it. Marc Sendra, a journalist turned into self-employed after leaving his newspaper, is preparing a novel on a historic robbery in downtown Valencia. He does so with the help of old acquaintances, such as El Llargo, El Messié, Father Rafel and the Mythic Regino, as well as the retired detective Toni Butxana, the Torres brothers and the former police commissioner Tordera. However, there stumble in a totally unexpected kidnapping and an assassination; elements that he himself wanted to add to the book as incentives, and that are suddenly becoming a part of the most immediate reality…

Ferran Torrent (Sedaví, Valencia region, 1951) is a writer and journalist.


From a review by Julià Guillamon:

Torrent has created a formula that always works, with lovable characters, with different plots of intrigue falcated with each other, like a big farolero poker game or a microscopic billiards, with a critical and melancholic view of the autonomous region of Valencia that in each new installment incorporates the novelties of the moment.

… Torrent never disappoints… you leave with the pockets full of simple and honest fun [casino metaphor].

There a quite a lot of previous titles written by Ferran Torrent since the 1980s in which star the same characters, or at least some of them; the most recent:

Cambres d’acer inoxidable [Stainless steel chambers], 2000

Societat limitada [Ltd.], 2002

Judici final [Final judgment], 2006

Només socis [Only members/Members only (?)], 2008

Un dinar un dia qualsevol [Lunch some day], 2015

According to the Catalan writers’ association, some of his works have been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish.

SOURCE: Grup 62 (Planeta, publisher); review in “Cultura/s”, La Vanguardia, June 17, 2017, p. 43 [printed edition]

Snippet: Teresa Solana’s “A Short-cut to Paradise”

Teresa Solana, Drecera al paradís/A shortcut to paradise, 2007/2011

A fresh and lively Barcelona crime story and at the same time a satire on the world of Iberian literature with the constant quarrels between authors that write quality literature and those that sell a lot of books… Published in 2007 this blogger read it with a delay of nine years, and it still appeared to be very up to date both in its portrayal of normal people’s problems of making ends meet as in its depictions of contemporary writers, their vanities and their discussions. Her other crime novels are also very good.

This post has been waiting to be published for more than a year… You will find more information on the novel and its author at the Source.

SOURCE: Bitter Lemon Press (publisher in English); Grup 62 (Catalan publisher, cover)

Snippet: Roberto Santiago’s “Ana”

Roberto Santiago, Ana [Anna], 2017, 864 p.

publisher’s summary:

Years ago, Ana Tramel was a brilliant criminal lawyer sought after by the best firms. A negative event in her past changed her life, and nowadays she spends her days in administrative resources in a mediocre firm, drowning in a glass of whisky. But her life is upset when her brother Alejandro, whom she hasn’t talked to in five years, calls her distressed. He has just been arrested for the murder of the director of the Casino Gran Castilla.
Ana asks her boss and old friend Concha for help. She needs the structure and the resources of the office to carry forward a defense in which she has got practically everything against her. Together with a peculiar team (an old investigator, a young female lawyer new to the job, and an intern addicted to gambling) she confronts the big gambling companies.

Ana, an absorbing thriller starring an intelligent but finished woman, brilliant but autodestructive, unique.

A dark murder
A protagonist who will leave her mark.
A battle that everybody considers lost.
A thriller that you will not be able to forget.

Roberto Santiago is a writer, playwright and movie director. He is the author of more than twenty novels for children and juvenile readers. Among others, the Futbolísimos series, that has become the most sold Spanish children’s literature saga during recent years, and that has been translated to various languages. He wrote and directed, among others, the movies El penalti más largo del mundo [The longest penalty in the world] (nominated for the Goya [Spanish Oscar] for best script), El club de los suicidas [The suicides’ club], Al final del camino [At the way’s end] and the international coproduction El sueño de Iván [Ivan’s dream]. In theatre, he wrote the adaptations of Ocho apellidos vascos [Eight Basque family names], El otro lado de la cama [The other side of the bed] and Perversiones sexuales en Chicago [Sexual perversity in Chicago], by David Mamet, among others. He contributed to various TV series; he is a profesor at the Escuela Oficial de Cine de la Comunidad de Madrid [Oficial movie academy of the Madrid region]; and his short film Ruleta [Roulette] was the first Spanish short film to compete in the official section of the Cannes film festival. Ana is his first novel for adults.

The presentation of the book on Spanish television’s Página 2 literature program sounded really interesting, though this blogger will wait until his public library makes the book available, or that in around two years there will be a cheaper paperback edition [ironically, most of the new and expensive Spanish novels are only paperbacks; it is hard to find nice, bound copies]. His ten year old daughter has already read a lot of Santiago’s children’s novels – their appeal probably lies to a great extent in the fact that they are richly illustrated.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Snippet: 8th “Ink Crimes” prize to Marc Moreno

During the opening act of Barcelona crime novel week 2017 (BCNegra), the 8th Crims de Tinta  [“ink crimes”] prize, sponsored by RBA-La Magrana (a big publishing house), was awarded to Marc Moreno (Barcelona, 1977), owner of the small Llibres del Delicte publishing house, specialized in Catalan crime novels, and author of five crime novels. The winning novel is entitled Temps de rates [Rats’ times] and set in Barcelona’s Verneda neighborhood. It starts with a drug dealer on the run who leaves a rucksack containing eight kilograms of cocaine with a neighbor of his on the same floor. Eloi draws the attention of all the mafiosi of his neighborhood who want to know where all of this material has come from. The jury decided unanimously in favor of Moreno’s novel due to “the dramatic force of the arguments and the desperate characters and the not at all complacent view on a nearly always hidden reality. […] The archetype of the losers has been brought to the extreme, creating surviving and amoral anti-heroes who, despite all of their efforts to the contrary, generate the readers’ empathy. […] The novel shows a willingness to get close to the most unpleasant reality, following the social function of a crime novel.” (Poverty, crime, drugs, and bad luck.)

Moreno’s other books are:

Cabdills [Chieftains] (2011)

Independència d’interessos [Independence of interests] (2013)

El silenci dels pactes [The silence of the pacts] (2014)

Contra l’aparador [Against the showcase] (2015)

and, together with S. Bennasar, Ll. Llort and S. Macip, La reina de diamants [The diamond queen] (2014)

Sounds a little bit like a Catalan Hunter S. Thompson to this blogger who might abstain from reading Moreno as he likes to preserve his peace of mind ignoring society’s most unpleasant domains…

SOURCE: (newspaper), Jan. 26, 2017

Snippet: BCN Negra 2017 – 26 Jan – 4 Feb

Barcelona crime novel week already at its 12th edition.

Reinstalled Crims de Tinta [Ink crimes] prize, 8th edition, will be awarded on Jan. 26.

The Pepe Carvalho prize will be given to Dennis Lehane. There will be an exhibition on the detective Pepe Carvalho, as there have passed 40 years since Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s (1939-2003, Wikipedia article) novel La soledad del mánager [The Angst-Ridden Executive].

More information in Catalan and Spanish at the source.

The program looks interesting with a lot of different round-table discussions on e.g. Catalan crime fiction, crime in Barcelona, Catalunya or the Basque Country, women in British crime fiction, etc. The only thing that struck this blogger as somewhat strange is that the program lists all the academic achievements of the lesser-known participants next to their names instead of concentrating on the main one, i.e. the reason for their being there, e.g. hardly anybody is only a journalist, all are also writers (but who is not?); with the better-known participants they simply put “writer”…