Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Murder in the Central Committee

"they rushed forward, overturning chairs as they went, to discover the reality of death".

I've recently been reading Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's Detective story Murder in the Central Committee. And I quite enjoyed it so review over I guess.

Only joking, anyway I'm not that much of a fan of the genre of detective fiction but this one has several things going for it that won me over. First its setting, as you can probably tell from the title the murder is that of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain -or as some comrades know them as the filthy traitorous Euro communist revisionists- and the only possible suspects are his fellow comrades on the central committee the parties highest organ.

The years is 1980 just after the downfall of Generalissimo Francisco Franco's dictatorship and the shaky restoration of democracy so tensions are running high and with both the government and the Party desperate for a quick and politically tidy solution.

In desperation the government appoints special investigator Fonseca a brutish man who was an infiltrator and informer for Franco in the "good old days". Outraged the Party enlists the help of Barcelona Private Detective and former Communist Pepe Carvalho to solve the case before Fonseca can finger the whole membership. However it soon becomes clear that the murder has attracted the attention of a number of shadowy international "companies" as well who can't help but meddle in this internal "Democratic" affair.

The second is the wonderful writing. The dialogue blends communist jargon in a witty some what cynical way that actually makes it much easier to follow, and is loaded with refferences to traditional Spanish and Catalonia and Basque and Galicia dishes (the only thing stopping this from doubling as a recipe book is the lack of measurements), the characters are surprisingly layered even the third tier ones, and the plot just does not stop thickening.

Another plus point thats linked to the above is that the book also gives some incite into the Spanish national psyche especially in regards to its regions and food, as well as few asides on the state and nature of politics in Spain and Europe.

I won't say no more as I'm in danger of travelling into spoiler territory. But its Well worth a read in my opinion.

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