The strangest August of recent times is coming, a difficult time when good reading becomes an excellent refuge again. The publishers made a true effort after confinement to put books on the market that will appeal to the reader. The result is uneven, but here I do not bring a table of news (we already did it in Babelia and next week another one will come out) but a selected list of nine readings that I think are among the best of the year (there are a couple of traps, but they are included in the gift ones).
What is the criteria? The same as always: I have read them, I liked them, I think they are worth it.
They are the only ones? No, and I invite you to read other posts where you will find more recommendations, but the lists are like this.
How is it organized? A recommendation by gender.
A very long night, Dov Alfon (Salamander, translation by Jofre Homedes Beutnagel). The spy novel is living a kind of second golden age to which Alfon has joined with a novel that has everything (international scenes, betrayals, paranoia and a lot of action) but that adds three new advantages: part of the Israeli espionage from within is counted (Alfon belonged to the elite unit 8200) ; It adapts to the world of computer intelligence, which really works now, as no other novel has done so far and has a female character, all pure chutzpah, which is the best of recent times in the genre. Good news: it will continue.
I leave the interview I did with the author.
The forest woman, John Connolly (Tusquets, translation by Vicente Campos). Readers of this blog know of my passion for the Charlie Parker series that is now reaching its sixteenth chapter in Spain. A long series has its dangers and there were certain ups and downs in the middle, but Connolly has managed to overcome and his detective marked by the dark side, his relationships with other levels of perception or knowledge, his encounters with his dead daughter would throw me out of any novel, but not my dear Bird’s. Also, a new signing, the evil Quayle, a complex and disturbing guy. For fans, which are many.
Do you want to know more? Here I leave a profile of the author.
The clarity, Marcelo Luján (Foam Pages). Luján’s literary commitment has its rewards in the form of an award, the Hammett in 2016 and now the Ribera del Duero for this set of stories that, as always, provoke the reader, delve into their discomfort and are at the edge of the genre, of any genre. I let Carlos Zanón speak: “Clarity can be read as a series of dioramas placed on the photo album that was Subsoil or skip the novel. In both cases, the pleasure of reading will remain intact. Luján’s gaze is black and that is why the destiny of the characters is marked and even the narrator in some stories allows himself to anticipate it. All so that the reader does not forget that there is no chance of escape. “
Here you can read the full review in Babelia.
Like lions, Brian Panovich (Siruela, translation by Rubén Martín). Clayton Burroughs is a peculiar type, descendant of the criminal family that has dominated Bull Montain for generations. But he was done Sheriff and fought against them. This is the approach from which this ex-firefighter turned writer to give a good turn to the genre in its debut Bull Mountain (Siruela). It was very difficult to resist the temptation to continue in this world of violence so peculiar and I welcome that it has not. There are robberies, guys called Mike el Costras, good people despite everything, benefactor narcos, women hard enough to survive in this world … a whole cast of different people with whom, far from recreating himself in his freak world, Panovich it tells us about what really matters.
little red women, Marta Sanz (Anagram). It has been difficult for me to include this enormous novel in any section because you leave it where you leave it is to restrict its wide scope, its formal daring. There is, as in the whole of the series starring and not by Zarco, a game with the genre, a search for literary truth, many challenges. little red women is the story of Paula, a middle-aged tax inspector who comes to Saffron (or Sulfur if we accept the nod to Dashiel Hammettal style Red Harvest) to work on a historical memory project. But it is also the history of the forgotten, of the family of Jesús Beato, patron of the town, informer and climber. He had the misfortune to be one of the books that came out just before the world changed and was confined, but his literary commitment lives on. It is an exercise in memory, an inquiry, a great novel. Black? To the bone, never better said.
You can read the interview I did in March at his house.
Corcira’s evil, Lorenzo Silva (Destination). Lorenzo Silva has decided in the tenth novel of the Bevilacqua and Chamorro series to take the civil guard to the past, to his involvement in the fight against ETA in the worst years. With this, the author from Madrid fulfills two objectives: on the one hand, he satisfies his fans, who are not few, and gives them what every reader of a series wants, explanations about his hero. On the other, he completes his best novel and talks about terrorism in Spain in an impeccable and rigorous way. The usual ingredients. The almost always impeccable procedural, the soul of the protagonist and the world that he knows so well about the Civil Guard from within are still present. Now with this you have completed what Antonio Muñoz Molina defined in Babelia as “a new popular mythology”.
I leave you here a broader story about creating Corcira’s evil.
The Munich Angel, Fabiano Massimi (Alfaguara, translation by Xavier González). There are increasingly better examples of black literature set in a historical context, a booming genre, as we have already told. This year we have had great examples like Under the flames Hervé Le Corre (Reservoir Books) a classic from which you can recommend everything or 1793, the brutal debut of Swedish Niklas Natt Och Dag. But I want to bring you a more recent example, a novel that investigates the actual murder of Hitler’s niece. Massimi has investigated for years to mount around this fact an investigation that is a very solvent police and an exciting story. The two leading police officers are named after the agents who investigated him in 1931, but they are the pure fictional part of this highly entertaining hybrid.
Havana room, Colin Harrison (Navona, translation by Aurora Echevarría). He could have taken any of the three novels that Navona has seen fit to publish this year to rescue one of the great authors of thrillers literary. If I go for this and not for Manhattan Nocturne or A map for a crime It is because perhaps it is the one that best reflects the universe of Harrison. In his novels the fall of an upper middle class man and good at his work is always related to which life, misfortune or a passion for a woman has brought him to the center of a dark plot in which the New York powers – the Money in all its forms, the press, the families of all time – intermingle with the criminal underworld. Choose this or any of the others, because there is a lot of literature, emotion as in any good thriller, and a New York like they haven’t seen it.
In 2019 the fertile Latin American harvest gave, among other great works, Eat dirt by Dolores Reyes (Sigilo), one of the best debuts and one of the most complex and powerful novels of recent times. The protagonist is a girl from a neighborhood in Greater Buenos Aires who solves feminicidal crimes by swallowing the land where the victims lived, a budget that is endowed with plausibility thanks to the power of language. I will not tell you more.
And, to top it off, a gift for initiates in the genre and for people who have not frequented it. Peripheral just published under the title The mysteries of Auguste Dupin, the first detective, The publisher brings us, with a translation of Angels of the Saints, the three most published and read stories of the creator of the detective genre. Namely: The murders of the rue Morgue, with the triumphant appearance of Dupin and the famous closed room type mystery, mono included; the great The stolen letter and the seminal The Marie Rôget mystery, a novel that every time I read I like it more for what it is today, for the influence it has left in the entire genre, for inventing false true crime, for mixing reality and fiction with that force. Come in and read.