Solana, Teresa - 'A Shortcut to Paradise' (translated by Peter Bush)
A SHORTCUT TO PARADISE is the second novel from Catalan author, Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush and published by Bitter Lemon Press. I don't think I've ever not enjoyed a book published by them, and the trend continues.
The book opens with translator, Ernest, about to default on the mortgage of his lovely home, all for the sake of 2000 Euros. Ernest decides the only thing to do is hold-up and rob a rich individual, which he proceeds to do outside one of Barcelona's hip night-clubs. The man he robs, Amadeu, is a literary writer in town for the presentation of the prestigious Golden Apple Fiction Prize and who has just lost (ungraciously) to a writer of popular fiction, Marina Dolc. At the same time as the robbery, Marina is being murdered back at the Ritz. However Amadeu is, not surprisingly, unable to prove his alibi and is arrested.
His agent then calls in the unofficial private detective duo of non-identical twins, Eduard and Borja, who first appeared in A NOT SO PERFECT CRIME to clear Amadeu's name.
The narration switches from the impecunious translator, to the twins and then via many other characters connected to the literary world until the murderer is discovered after an Agatha Christie style recreation of events on the night of the murder.
A SHORTCUT TO PARADISE is not a who-dunnit really; on the crime plot framework hangs an amusing tale about writers, literary fiction, and the snobbery of some writers whose impenetrable works are overlooked in favour of populist fiction. Solana's pointed and funny remarks are aimed at a whole range of professions though, not just writers. And even if some of the humour is better appreciated in its native country, rather than in translation, there's plenty left that is universally recognisable.
Though they do very little detecting, the twins are a delight. One is a sensible family man with responsibilities, the other has reinvented himself as the poor son of a noble family, an act which gets the pair hired by the rich to investigate infidelities and such like. They bicker constantly but the bond is strong.
A SHORTCUT TO PARADISE, which also gives an insight into Barcelona and the Catalonian way of life, is a fun, quick read which left me hoping that there are plenty more books in the series.
Karen Meek, England