“My books are like an exorcism. but everything is fake, like a horror film.” “In my novels, almost always the good policemen are as bad as the murderers, because that way they know the territory they are on better.”
These are some of the statements that we heard from Jean-Christophe Grangé when he came to Barcelona in 2005 to participate in the First European Black Novel Meeting, the nucleus from which the BCNegra festival arose. Grangé, at that time on the crest of the wave with his novel The purple rivers made into a film by Mathieu Kassovitz with Jean Reno in the main role –and more recently a television series–, claimed a polar gothic and murky in the face of the desire for social impact of other participants in that meeting, such as Petros Márkaris, Jakob Arjouni or Paco González Ledesma.
The French author, who has been a great bestseller, strives to show the darker currents in the personality of his characters. His work pioneered the trend of the “traumatized researcher” so characteristic of our time.
A conceited psychoanalyst, an aristocratic doctor and a Gestapo agent investigate the crimes at the gathering at the Adlon Hotel
In his latest novel, Death in the Third Reich (Destiny), the protagonists are a short, uncombed and conceited psychoanalyst, an aristocratic and alcoholic doctor and a sinister member of the Gestapo. Three improbable bloodhounds to solve the murders of several ladies who frequent the social gathering at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin in 1939.
Psychoanalysis is a good ally of the detective genre, as we have already seen in the novels of John Katzenbach or Gabriel Rolón; in Death in the Third Reich, all the murdered had undergone therapy by the devious Simon Kraus. In 700 pages that could have been cut down, Grangé adorns the plot with a competent period reconstruction. And he brings to the black genre the dilemma posed by the benevolent by Jonathan Littell: to what extent is it ethical to favor narrative empathy with such morally despicable individuals as Nazi agent Franz Beewen?
Ann Sitwell, a young art historian, arrives for her summer stage at The Cloisters, the extension of the Metropolitan Museum
In a space-time galaxy far away, empathy with the character tilts over Ann Sitwell, a young art historian who arrives to do her stages summer to The Cloisters, the extension of the Metropolitan Museum in New York in the extreme north of the city, famous in these latitudes for housing the cloister of Sant Miquel de Cuixà, brought there in the 1930s by the art dealer George Gray Barnard and acquired by magnate John Rockefeller (acquisition, by the way, about which one could argue quite a bit by current standards).
In the cloisters (Plata editores) we soon perceive the young Ann as a not entirely reliable narrator, who hides data and maintains an ambiguous relationship with the gardener Leo and with the curator Patrick, obsessed with a Renaissance tarot deck.
It has been said that this first and acclaimed novel by Kathy Hays, an art history professor in California, has an air of The secret by Donna Tartt, although it reminded me rather the goldfinch by the same author, with that ability to generate a sophisticated atmosphere with magical tones based on characters and environments loaded with cultural references.
And another work of suspense with an artistic background is the portrait of a strangerby Daniel Silva (HarperCollins). Silva, like John Grisham and Dan Winslow, belongs to the privileged club that inevitably commands the top sales positions in the US with each new book. He has achieved this with the series of adventures starring Gabriel Allon, an Israeli spy whom we saw a few years ago. not much as the top leader of the Mossad, after a long career in the organization.
‘Portrait of a stranger’ is not as good as Silva’s spy novels, but it is a very entertaining work
Can a spymaster be at the same time an admirable restorer of the old masters of painting? The laws of fiction allow it. And in this category Allon, already retired from his duties and installed in Venice with his second wife Clara and two children (his first family suffered the tragic consequences of his difficult job), pursues a forgery plot triggered by the appearance of a supposed Van dyck.
portrait of a stranger It’s not as good as his pure spy novels, but Silva has an undeniable gift for intrigue and has once again published a highly entertaining book.