|A Short Cut to Paradise / Teresa Solana|
Translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush
London: Bitter Lemon Press, 2011, c2008.
After reading and enjoying Solana's short story collection in August, I decided to pick up this mystery to try next. I was hoping it would be as entertaining as the first book. It sort of was, but didn't quite hit the mark for me.
A Short Cut to Paradise is the name of a novel within the book, the last novel written by Marina Dolc before she was brutally murdered, immediately after winning a big literary prize. Twin detectives Borja and Eduard are asked by a literary agent to investigate, as her client, fellow writer Amadeu Cabestany has been arrested although he maintains that he's innocent.
The reader knows that he is innocent, as we see him elsewhere during the time of the murder, on the first few pages. But Solana takes advantage of this setup to skewer Barcelona's literary establishment, the police and government, and the actions of everyday society as well.
There are some funny bits as the twins encounter suspects and sources, trying to behave like 'real detectives'. And the experiences of Amadeu Cabestany in prison are rather ironically amusing (as is his final outcome). However, the book dragged on a bit, going in circles in the middle and feeling like it was just being padded a bit. There was a completely unnecessary scene that added nothing to the mystery or its solution, it felt like a set piece dropped into the book -- an orgy at a literary party caused by hallucinogenic appetizers.
The elements of literary pretension and satire definitely entertained me, and the mystery made sense once the solution was revealed (it was actually a bit sad). The Barcelona setting was also a strong element of this story, one of the most absorbing bits really. I found the characters of Eduard and Borja interesting enough to perhaps pick up another title in this series in future, but this is very light reading indeed and another might have to wait until next summer when I need something frivolous to read on the beach ;)