OT: Cuenca (Spain) (II)


A World Heritage Site, Cuenca is one of Spain’s most memorable cities, its old centre a stage set of evocative medieval buildings, many painted in bright colours, stacked on a steep promontory at the meeting of two deep river gorges. Narrow meandering streets separate tall houses with wooden balconies that literally jut out over the sheer cliffs. Yet, despite its age and Unesco listing, Cuenca has somewhat ironically established itself as a vortex of abstract modern art. Two of its most iconic buildings – including one of the famed casas colgadas (hanging houses) – have transformed their interiors into modern galleries. It’s a theme continued in many of the town’s hotels, museums and restaurants.

My previous post is here.





Inspector Salvo Montalbano Book Series (1994–2020) by Andrea Camilleri

Just a reminder of Montalbano book series. I recently heard that The Cook of the Halcyon (#27) is among the best book in the series. I look forward to reading it soon.

9780143136187Synopsis: Giovanni Trincanato has brought ruin to the shipyard he inherited from his father and when a worker he fires hangs himself on the construction site, Inspector Montalbano is called to the scene. In short order, the inspector loses his temper with the crass Giovanni, delivers a slap to his face, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last he sees of Trincanato. Meanwhile, a mysterious schooner called Halcyon shows up in the harbor, seemingly deserted except for just one man. With its presence comes even more mysteries, another death, and the arrival of the FBI. Alongside Sicilian-American Agent Pennisi, Montalbano and his team must attempt a suspenseful infiltration operation in this new, page-turning Inspector Montalbano mystery.

Penguin Random House publicity page

Pan MacMillan publicity page

About the Author: Andrea Camilleri (1925 – 2019) was an Italian writer. Originally from Porto Empedocle, Girgenti, Sicily, Camilleri began university studies in the Faculty of Literature at the University of Palermo, but did not complete his degree; meanwhile he published poems and short stories. From 1948 to 1950 he studied stage and film direction at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts (Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica) and began to take on work as a director and screenwriter, directing especially plays by Pirandello and Beckett. His parents knew, and were, reportedly, “distant friends” of, Pirandello, as he tells in his essay on Pirandello, Biography of the Changed Son. His most famous works, the Montalbano series, show many Pirandellian elements: for example, the wild olive tree that helps Montalbano think is on stage in his late work The Giants of the Mountain. With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Le inchieste del commissario Maigret with Gino Cervi. In 1977 he returned to the Academy of Dramatic Arts, holding the chair of Film Direction and occupying it for 20 years.

In 1978 Camilleri wrote his first novel Il Corso Delle Cose (“The Way Things Go“). This was followed by Un Filo di Fumo (“A Thread of Smoke“) in 1980. Neither of these works enjoyed any significant amount of popularity. In 1992, after a long pause of 12 years, Camilleri once more took up novel writing. A new book, La Stagione della Caccia (“The Hunting Season“) turned out to be a best-seller.

In 1994 Camilleri published the first in a long series of novels: La forma dell’Acqua (The Shape of Water) featured the character of Inspector Montalbano, a fractious detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. The series is written in Italian but with a substantial sprinkling of Sicilian phrases and grammar. The name Montalbano is a homage to the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán; the similarities between Montalban’s Pepe Carvalho and Camilleri’s fictional detective are noteworthy. Both writers make use of their protagonists’ gastronomic preferences.

This feature provides an interesting quirk which has become something of a fad among his readership even in mainland Italy. The TV adaptation of Montalbano’s adventures, starring Luca Zingaretti, further increased Camilleri’s popularity to such a point that in 2003 Camilleri’s home town, Porto Empedocle – on which Vigàta is modelled – took the extraordinary step of changing its official name to that of Porto Empedocle Vigàta, no doubt with an eye to capitalising on the tourism possibilities thrown up by the author’s work. On his website, Camilleri refers to the engaging and multi-faceted character of Montalbano as a “serial killer of characters,” meaning that he has developed a life of his own and demands great attention from his author, to the demise of other potential books and different personages. Camilleri added that he wrote a Montalbano novel every so often just so that the character would be appeased and allow him to work on other stories.

In 2012, Camilleri’s The Potter’s Field (translated by Stephen Sartarelli) was announced as the winner of the 2012 Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger. The announcement was made on 5 July 2012 at the awards ceremony held at One Birdcage Walk in London.

In his last years Camilleri lived in Rome where he worked as a TV and theatre director. About 10 million copies of his novels have been sold to date and are becoming increasingly popular in the UK (where BBC Four broadcast the Montalbano TV series from mid-2011), Australia and North America.

In addition to the degree of popularity brought him by the novels, Andrea Camilleri became even more of a media icon thanks to the parodies aired on an RAI radio show, where popular comedian, TV host and impressionist Fiorello presents him as a raspy voiced, caustic character, madly in love with cigarettes and smoking, since in Italy, Camilleri was well known for being a heavy smoker of cigarettes. He considered himself a “non-militant atheist”. On 17 June 2019, Camilleri suffered a heart attack. He was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. He died on 17 July 2019. (Source: Wikipedia)

Inspector Salvo Montalbano Book Series (1994–2020)

(excluding short stories)

  1. The Shape of Water, 2002 [La forma dell’acqua, Palermo, Sellerio, 1994];
  2. The Terra-Cotta Dog, 2002 [Il cane di terracotta, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996];
  3. The Snack Thief, 2003 [Il ladro di merendine, Palermo, Sellerio, 1996];
  4. The Voice of the Violin, 2003 [La voce del violino, Palermo, Sellerio, 1997];
  5. The Excursion To Tindari, 2005 [La gita a Tindari, Palermo, Sellerio, 2000];
  6. The Smell of the Night aka The Scent of the Night, 2005 [L’odore della notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2001];
  7. Rounding the Mark, 2006 [Il giro di boa, Palermo, Sellerio, 2003];
  8. The Patience of the Spider, 2007 [La pazienza del ragno, Palermo, Sellerio, 2004];
  9. The Paper Moon, 2008 [La luna di carta, Palermo, Sellerio, 2005];
  10. August Heat, 2009 [La vampa d’agosto, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006];
  11. The Wings of the Sphinx, 2009 [Le ali della sfinge, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006];
  12. The Track of Sand, 2010 [La pista di sabbia, Palermo, Sellerio, 2007];
  13. The Potter’s Field, 2011 [Il campo del vasaio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008];
  14. The Age of Doubt, 2012 [L’età del dubbio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2008];
  15. The Dance of the Seagull, 2013 [La danza del gabbiano, Palermo, Sellerio, 2009];
  16. The Treasure Hunt, 2013 [La caccia al tesoro, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  17. Angelica’s Smile, 2014 [Il sorriso di Angelica, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  18. Game of Mirrors, 2015 [Il gioco degli specchi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2010];
  19. A Beam of Light aka Blade of Light, 2015 [Una lama di luce, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012];
  20. A Voice in the Night, 2016 [Una voce di notte, Palermo, Sellerio, 2012];
  21. A Nest of Vipers, 2017 [Un covo di vipere, Palermo, Sellerio, 2013];
  22. The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 [La piramide di fango, Palermo, Sellerio, 2014];
  23. The Overnight Kidnapper, 2019 [La giostra degli scambi, Palermo, Sellerio, 2015];
  24. The Other End of the Line, 2019 [L’altro capo del filo, Palermo, Sellerio, 2016];
  25. The Safety Net, 2020 [La rete di protezione, Palermo, Sellerio, 2017];
  26. The Sicilian Method, 2020 [Il metodo Catalanotti, Palermo, Sellerio, 2018];
  27. The Cook of the Halcyon, 2021 [Il cuoco dell’Alcyon, Palermo, Sellerio, 2019];
  28. Riccardino, 2021 [Riccardino , Palermo, Sellerio, 2020].

My Book Notes: Time to Kill, 1974 (David Mallin #1 ) by Roger Ormerod

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para acceder a la versión en español.

Lume Books, 2014. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 7062 KB. Print Length: 173 pages. ASIN: B00O4FFAG6. ISBN: 9781471352676. First published by Robert Hale Ltd in March 1974.

51jVyl Yk9L.SX316.SY480._SL500_Synopsis: Detective Sergeant Dave Mallin accepted the invitation for a few frames of snooker, although the challenge came from Eldon Kyle, the man who had threatened murder. However, his opponent was more deadly than even Mallin could have guessed, and when murder did occur, Kyle had the perfect alibi—he was playing snooker with Mallin!

My Take: Inspector David Millen couldn’t imagine that he was going to provide Eldon Kyle with the perfect alibi when he agreed to play with him a few frames of snooker. Mallin arrived at the billiard hall on the basement floor of the old Queens Hotel at five to nine. Kyle arrived almost exactly at nine. After half an hour play, Kyle made a mistake, but from that point on, he played fast and accurate billiards and never made a mistake again. Close to eleven, Mallin had to attend a phone call. It was the the night porter to inform him that Mr. Forbes was waiting for him in his suite, room two-oh-three, at eleven. Back at the table, Eldon Kyle had left him an impossible shot, he conceded him the game, and took the lift up to room two-oh-three. The door had a bell with a small card printed that said G. Forbes. He rang but found no reply. He only had to push the door to enter. Inside he found Geoff Forbes over a pool of blood. He had managed to crawl a few feet until rolling onto his back and died of a stomach wound, but there was no weapon. The only thing Mallin touched was the phone to get Central Office.

Geoff Forbes was an ex-copper, so they sent their best. Vantage was the best and he took over the investigation. Mallin didn’t even know Forbes had a suite at Queens Mansions. Jenkins, the night porter,  confirmed he last saw Mr Forbes at around nine-thirty, when he asked him to ring to the billiard room at about ten to eleven and tell Mr Mallin to come up and see him at around eleven. Queen Mansions was only built six months ago, and Mr Forbes had occupied a suite for about two months or a bit over, perhaps. He wasn’t always alone, sometimes a woman accompanied him. By her description, Mallin was sure she was not his wife, Elsa. But she wasn’t with him the night he was killed. The most extraordinary fact of the case was that Geoff Forbes was murdered in the same building where Eldon Kyle, the man who had threatened to kill him, was at that very moment. And Dave Mallin had just given him an alibi.

This has been my first encounter with Roger Ormond and I am sure it won’t be the last. I’m actually reading The Silence of the Night (1974). I came across Roger Ormerod through TomCat and J F Norris reviews at Beneath the Stains of Time and Pretty Sinister Books respectively. In addition, I found that most of Ormerod’s books are easy to find in electronic format and attractively priced. But what definitively encouraged me to read Roger Ormerod, was TomCat’s following comment: “During the 1970s, Roger Ormerod crime-and detective fiction featured two different series-characters, David Mallin and George Coe, who had their respective first appearances in Time to Kill (1974) and A Spoonful of Luger (1975), but Ormerod decided to bring them together in Too Late for the Funeral (1977) – which has them “approaching the same case from entirely different directions.” A crossover that marked the beginning of their partnership. Over the next five years, Mallin and Coe appeared side-to-side in novels like The Weight of Evidence (1978) and More Dead Than Alive (1980).”  (TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time). Consequently my aim is to start reading the following titles in its chronological order: Time to Kill (1974); The Silence of the Night (1974); A Spoonful of Luger (1975); Too Late for the Funeral (1977); The Weight of Evidence (1978);  More Dead Than Alive (1980); One Deathless Hour (1981). In a nut shell, Roger Ormerod is an author unjustly forgotten who deserves to be better known. Stay tuned.

About the Author: Roger Ormerod (1920 –2005) was a rather prolific British writer of ingenious and densely plotted crime novels which were published in the UK and the US. He lived in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, and amongst other things worked as a civil servant and as a Social Security inspector – backgrounds which he made full use of in his fiction, as he did with his hobbies of painting and photography. He wrote, if my information is correct, at least twelve standalone books; six novels in a series featuring Philipa Lowe and Oliver Simpson; 16 books in a series featuring private detective David Mallin; and 13 in his Richard and Amelia Patton series, for a total of 47 books published between 1974 and 1999, that I have identified.

Lume Books publicity page

On A Defense of the Impossible Alibi Problem and “Doylist” Impossibilities by Isaac Stump

Time to Kill, de Roger Ormerod

Sinopsis: El subinspector de la policía Dave Mallin aceptó la invitación para jugar unas cuantas partidas de snooker, a pesar de que el desafío procedía de Eldon Kyle, el hombre que había amenazado con asesinarlo. Sin embargo, su oponente era más letal de lo que Mallin se podía imaginar, y cuando ocurrió el asesinato, Kyle tenía la coartada perfecta: ¡estaba jugando al billar con Mallin!

Mi opinión: El inspector David Millen no podía imaginarse que le iba a proporcionar a Eldon Kyle la coartada perfecta cuando accedió a jugar con él unas cuantas partidas de snooker. Mallin llegó a la sala de billar del sótano del antiguo hotel Queens a las nueve menos cinco. Kyle llegó casi exactamente a las nueve. Después de media hora de juego, Kyle cometió un error, pero a partir de ese momento, jugó un billar rápido y preciso y nunca volvió a cometer un error. Cerca de las once, Mallin tuvo que atender una llamada telefónica. Era el portero de noche para informarle de que el señor Forbes lo estaba esperando en su suite, habitación dos-cero-tres, a las once. De vuelta a la mesa, Eldon Kyle le había dejado un tiro imposible, le concedió el juego y tomó el ascensor hasta la habitación dos-cero-tres. La puerta tenía un timbre con una pequeña tarjeta impresa que decía G. Forbes. Llamó pero no encontró respuesta. Solo tuvo que empujar la puerta para entrar. Dentro encontró a Geoff Forbes sobre un charco de sangre. Había logrado gatear unos metros hasta que rodó sobre su espalda y murió de una herida en el estómago, pero no había ningún arma. Lo único que tocó Mallin fue el teléfono para llamar a la Oficina Central.

Geoff Forbes era un antiguo policía, por lo que enviaron al mejor. Vantage era el mejor y se hizo cargo de la investigación. Mallin ni siquiera sabía que Forbes tenía una suite en Queens Mansions. Jenkins, el portero de noche, confirmó que vio por última vez al señor Forbes alrededor de las nueve y media, cuando le pidió que llamara a la sala de billar alrededor de las once menos diez y le dijera al señor Mallin que subiera a verlo alrededor de las once. Queen Mansions se construyó hace solo seis meses, y el Sr. Forbes había ocupado una suite durante unos dos meses o un poco más, tal vez. No siempre iba solo, a veces lo acompañaba una mujer. Según su descripción, Mallin estaba seguro de que ella no era su esposa, Elsa. Pero ella no estaba con él la noche en que lo mataron. El hecho más extraordinario del caso fue que Geoff Forbes fue asesinado en el mismo edificio donde se encontraba en ese mismo momento Eldon Kyle, el hombre que había amenazado con matarlo. Y Dave Mallin acababa de darle una coartada.

Este ha sido mi primer encuentro con Roger Ormond y estoy seguro de que no será el último. De hecho, estoy leyendo The Silence of the Night (1974). Conocí a Roger Ormerod a través de las reseñas de TomCat y J F Norris en Beneath the Stains of Time y Pretty Sinister Books, respectivamente. Además, descubrí que la mayoría de los libros de Ormerod son fáciles de encontrar en formato electrónico y tienen un precio atractivo. Pero lo que definitivamente me animó a leer a Roger Ormerod fue el siguiente comentario de TomCat: “Durante la década de 1970, las novelas policíacas y de detectives de Roger Ormerod, estaban protagonizadas por dos personajes diferentes, David Mallin y George Coe, que tuvieron sus respectivas primeras apariciones en Time to Kill (1974) y A Spoonful of Luger (1975), pero Ormerod decidió reunirlos en Too Late for the Funeral (1977), y les hace “abordar el mismo caso de froma totalmente diferente”. Un cruce que marcó el comienzo de su asociación. Durante los siguientes cinco años, Mallin y Coe aparecieron uno al lado del otro en novelas como The Weight of Evidence (1978) and More Dead Than Alive (1980).”  (TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time). En consecuencia, mi propósito es comenzar a leer los siguientes títulos por orden cronológico: Time to Kill (1974); The Silence of the Night (1974);  A Spoonful of Luger (1975); Too Late for the Funeral (1977); The Weight of Evidence (1978);  More Dead Than Alive (1980); One Deathless Hour (1981). En pocas palabras, Roger Ormerod es un autor injustamente olvidado que merece ser más conocido. Manténganse al tanto.

Sobre el autor: Roger Ormerod (1920-2005) fue un escritor británico bastante prolífico de novelas policiacas ingeniosas y repletas de intrigas que se publicaron en el Reino Unido y en los Estados Unidos. Vivió en Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, y entre otras cosas trabajó como funcionario y como inspector de la Seguridad Social, antecedentes que aprovechó al máximo en sus novelas, al igual que lo hizo con sus pasatiempos la pintura y la fotografía. Escribió, si mi información es correcta, al menos doce libros independientes; seis novelas en una serie con Philipa Lowe y Oliver Simpson; 16 libros en una serie con el detective privado David Mallin; y 13 en su serie de Richard y Amelia Patton, para un total de 47 libros publicados entre 1974 y 1999, que yo haya identificado.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921 – 1990)

descargaFriedrich Dürrenmatt (1921 – 1990) was born in Konolfingen (canton of Berne, Emmental region) the son of a protestant minister; he died in Neuchâtel, where he lived for 38 years. He studied philosophy, German literature and history of art in Berne and Zurich and worked as a playwright, novelist, essayist and painter. His plays The Visit (1956) and The Physicists (1962) brought him his greatest international acclaim, together with the film adaptations of his detective novels such as The Judge and His Hangman (1952) and The Pledge (1958). His philosophical essays and late-career autobiographical works, as well as his visual art – accomplished in parallel with his writing – are less well-known. The author received numerous awards throughout his career. He was twice married, and the father of three children born of his first marriage.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt excelled in the mystery novel genre, intermingling morality and logic to the point of absurdity. He spun his plots using increasingly complex and confusing literary tactics, against a philosophical background.

One of Dürrenmatt’s earliest sources of income as a young writer were his detective novels The Judge and His Hangman (1950) and Suspicion (1951), which first appeared in serialized form in the Schweizerische Beobachter review. He gave his cancer-stricken Inspector Barlach of Bern the stature of a figure straight out of the Old Testament, while at the same time ironically calling that very stature into question. Today, many of his literary detective novels are required reading in German language classes.

Film projects lie at the root of three further books in this vein: The Pledge (1958, subtitled “Requiem for the Detective Novel”); The Execution of Justice (begun in 1959/60 and completed in 1985); and The Assignment (1986). In all three, the author’s characteristic intermingling of morality and logic is carried out to the point of absurdity. By the same token, his novels always provide philosophical outlooks on the relationship between law and morality, the origin of evil and the possibility of knowledge. The last of this genre of novels, Valley of Confusion (1989), skilfully and confusingly interweaves theological, cosmological and mythical motifs into a satirical gangster tale located in an Alpine spa town. (Source: Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel)

Selected Bibliography: The Judge and His Hangman (Der Richter und sein Henker, 1950; novel); Suspicion (Der Verdacht, 1951, also known as The Quarry); The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel (Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman, 1958, novella); The Execution of Justice (Justiz, 1985); The Assignment (Der Auftrag, 1986, novella)

51Fv j7llFL._SY346_Synopsis: A respected professor is dead – shot in a crowded Zurich restaurant, in front of dozens of witnesses. The murderer calmly turned himself in to the police. So why has he now hired a lawyer to clear his name? And why has he chosen the drink-soaked, disreputable Spät to defend him?
As he investigates, Spät finds himself obsessed, drawn ever deeper into a case of baffling complexity until he reaches a deadly conclusion: justice can be restored only by a crime. This is a captivating neo-noir classic from
the master of the genre.
The Execution of Justice is a dark, wicked satire on the legal system and a disturbing, if ambivalent, allegory on guilt, justice, violence and morality.

Further reading: Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921 – 1990); Pushkin Press publicity page.

Montilla-Moriles homenajea a Edgar Allan Poe y al vino amontillado

descargaLuchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.” says at one point the main character of “The Cask of Amontillado“, one of the most famous stories (at least in Córdoba, for obvious reasons) by the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, who died yesterday, 172 years ago. This story was first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. (Source: Córdoba hoy)

Further reading:

El Barril de Amontillado: de Edgar Allan Poe y de Montilla (in Spanish)

The Cask of Amontillado (Wikipedia)

El barril de amontillado (Wikipedia)