Year of publication: 2021
Valuation: Highly recommended
There are books (not just novels, but it is more common to happen with some novels) that grab you, bite you, cling to you and won’t let go, like the barracuda on the arm of the overly curious diver or your neighbor’s dog when it runs away. hold on to your leg to… well, let’s leave it. The fact is that, as I say, there are books that won’t let you go even if you pour hot water on them or, rather, that one is incapable of letting go from the beginning and you can’t do anything else but read them until they’re finished. Yes, it is true that there are formulas, writer’s tricks to achieve this and that is what writers feed on. best-sellers or, even more so, those who publish books on how to write a best-seller, but writers with real talent, even though they can use all those tricks, don’t really need them or they come to them on their own, they come with them already learned as standard. This, of course, is not limited to thrillers or, more generally, to genre works, as is the case at hand, and I can think of a good handful of authors, not just fiction, who know how to grab readers and not let go until we reach , exhausted and sometimes shaken and even excited, at the end of the book. In that group, from now on (and I hope it is something that future readings will confirm) I include, without the slightest doubt, Jesús Cañadas.
Summary summary: In a pre-winter Berlin, Neukölln District Criminal Brigade agent Lukas Kocaj is assigned to the case of the disappearance, under worrying circumstances, of Rebecca Lilienthal, a teenage boarder at a Catholic school. Her partner is veteran Sergeant Otto Ritter, alias Tenaza, a bad beast of the old school, not given to contemplating suspects, especially when they are suspects of violence against women. Together, although not always on good terms, they will try to track down the girl and an enigmatic and ominous King, who seems to lurk behind the whole thing. To do this they will have to visit the Fire and the Hole, in search of the mysterious Smoking Area, where Rebecca seems to have ended up…
As can be seen, the novel runs, in its first half, along the more or less usual paths of the thriller detective story, its author even making use of some of the well-known clichés of the genre (rookie cop versus veteran cop, their personal problems, etc.), although with enough skill to integrate them into a story that, at times, , becomes stranger, until it becomes, definitively, a fantastic horror story, although with the background, unfortunately more than real, of the violence of different intensity, but unequivocal, that so many women suffer, no matter their age. … Cañadas moves his characters through an unmistakably urban setting, a Berlin quite far from what tourists usually know and even, on more than one occasion, from what Berliners themselves know, a city apparently especially plagued by nooks and crannies, where at least disturbing realities are hidden; However, it would be said that, together with elements rooted both in the Christian religion itself and in classical mythology (it could be said that the novel is, in a certain way, a modern translation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in which both had a descent to Hades and return from there, even much more complicated) or the tradition of horror narrative, it would seem that it also makes use of the imagery of traditional tales, of the Brothers Grimm, without going any further: we find a knight who tries to save a princess, with ogres and various other monsters, with a witch… (Actually, my theory goes a little further and I would dare to suggest that the story can be seen as a dark and sinister version of a episode of Adventure Timewith Kocaj playing Finn the Human, Ritter playing Jake the Dog, Rebecca would be Princess Bubblegum and the King… well the Ice King, of course.
I say that I would dare to suggest it but I don’t dare, because I am still afraid, since I wrote that Our part at night It was going to be an adult version of the adventures of Harry Potter, of Queen Mariana asking San La Muerte to do a little job for me, I’m not going to cause Jesús Cañadas to hire some hitmen from Eastern Europe to give me a job. beating. So peace, eh, Jesus, bro? Good vibes).
Okay, I’m not going to continue there, because then the respectable person will complain to me and, furthermore, there are several important things to say about this novel:
1- The narrative arc or even the transformation of the main characters. And it’s not just that they change, it’s that from the beginning (or from what it seems at first, rather) all of them are more than complex…
2- The frequent appearance of very violent moments, both on the real and fantastic levels, reaching quite extremes gore… It is necessary to warn about this because this is not a novel suitable for delicate spirits and stomachs either. It is not gratuitous violence, however, because a certain violence is, precisely, the central theme of the novel.
3- The creation of environments and characters – I’m not just referring to the protagonists, but also – absolutely fascinating, oppressive as well as magnetic, creepy but plausible. Whoever lives or visits Berlin will not be able to see certain parts of the city in the same way in the same way or come across its inhabitants without wondering about the secrets they hide, I suspect… (it must be explained that the author also lives there, apparently).
4- And I’m done: how well Cañadas writes and not only because of his undeniable sense of rhythm, with which he knows how to carry you through the entire novel without you realizing it, but also his mastery of all the narrative resources, which he knows how to handle with skill according to the needs of each moment, whether it is an action scene, a description, an erotic interlude or a direct look at horror like the one we find, and on more than one and two occasions, in this wonderful novel . What is a genre novel? Yes, damn it, and I wish they were all like that, in intensity, honesty and excellence, whether it’s horror, noir or “little cup” novels. And I wish someone decided to make a movie or a series based on this book, respecting its many qualities as much as possible because, believe me, we were going to rock it…