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Prado, Benjamin - 'Snow is Silent' (translated by Sam Richard)
Paperback (May 2005) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571223397

SNOW IS SILENT is set in an unnamed Spanish city and is narrated by one of three friends. The novelty is that the reader does not know who is narrating until the very, and tragic, end.

The story opens with one of the three, either Iker Orbaiz, Angel Biedma or Alcaen Sanchez, setting off to kill a woman called Laura Salinas. The story then jumps back to what has happened to make one of them into a murderer.

Alcaen is a clerk on a modest income and for excitement at the weekends he pretends to be wealthy and views expensive houses that he can't afford in reality. Through this he meets estate agent Laura Salinas, a beautiful woman he considers way out of his league and so he lies to her at first. He even contemplates robbing his own firm's safe so that he can continue to woo her in the style he thinks she deserves.

Iker is a writer and is currently working on a novel, 'The Man Who Never Appeared in His Own Dreams' using Alcaen's name and life as a muse. Angel, a doctor, is supporting Iker by finding him a small but regular job with the local paper. Iker's story however is not as exciting as the reality that Alcaen's life is to become. When Alcaen reveals the truth to Laura that he is poor and has lied to her she rejects him and refuses to have anything to do with him. Then later she agrees to see him and when they meet she is injured and Alcaen drags the truth out about her abusive husband. Furious, Alcaen sees her husband as the only obstacle to their being together and agrees to do anything to save Laura, including killing her husband. But after he does the awful deed, Laura disappears and Alcaen's life is about to become even more desperate.

This is a very stylish noir tale with twist upon twist at the end. It's beautifully written with a flawless translation by Sam Richard which makes it difficult to believe that it wasn't originally written in English. This was a quick and entertaining read and I especially enjoyed the knowing and occasionally humorous narrative tone.

Karen Meek, England
September 2005

last updated 22/03/2008 16:25