International Crime Fiction: Spotlight on Spain

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

2016’s been a prolific year for crime fiction set in Spain, ranging from tales of 16th century rebellion against the Inquisition to 1970s punk protests of Franco’s fascist regime. The volumes below remind us that, in Spanish history, just as in the Pyrenees, there are many highs and lows. All make for fascinating backdrops…to murder. 

9781101982730Devils of Cardona by Matthew Carr 

The Spanish king sends a trusted converso judge, Bernardo de Mendoza, to investigate a priest’s bloody murder in a region known for the tolerance of the local gentry and the suspicions of the local Inquisition. More murders have occurred by the time the investigating judge and his party arrive – the mutilated corpses of four drovers point a finger at the area’s former Muslim inhabitants, yet Mendoza suspects the murders stem from another force looking to persecute Moriscos, or Muslims forced to convert to Catholicism. This story speaks to the brutality of the 16th century and the rising xenophobia of our own day. With The Devils of Cardona, Matthew Carr has created a visceral historical mystery and a passionate plea for tolerance. You can find copies on our shelves or via bookpeople.com

9781616956288Blood Crime by Sebastia Alzamora

While I normally read about anarchist Barcelona from the other side, I thoroughly enjoyed this bizarre tale of bloody murder, told from the perspective of priests attempting to leave Republican Spain and join their brethren in the South of France. As they negotiate with an anarchist leader whose sister, herself a nun, has convinced him to aid in their escape, a vampire picks off priests and altar boys amidst the chaos. A strangely endearing mixture of gothic horror, murder mystery, and political commentary, originally published in Catalan and brought to US audiences by SoHo Press. Copies are available via special order in-store or via bookpeople.com

9781501131677The Sleeping World by Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

This political thrill-ride of a novel follows a group of teens who attack a policeman at a protest in 1970s Spain, and must go on the run and hope that a regime change happens sooner, rather than later. Along the way, they discover lingering graffiti tags from the protagonist’s disappeared brother, mapping a path of mourning for the unnaturally lost across the landscape. Fuentes vividly recreates a time of massive shifts in Spanish politics and the rebellious power of a punk-rock lifestyle under a fascist regime. You can find copies on our shelves or via bookpeople.com

9781632061096The Winterlings by Cristina Sanchez-Andrade

After beguiling Spanish critics and winning the English Pen Award, The Winterlings, an eerie tale of lingering secrets from Cristina Sanchez-Andrade, now makes its way across the pond by our friends at Restless Books. The Winterlings tells the strange story of two sisters who return to their village after a long exile. Their initial reason for leaving? Their father’s brutal murder during the Spanish Civil War. Their reason for returning? A secret to the curious villagers, but not to the sisters… You can find copies on our shelves or via bookpeople.com

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