At Close Quartets (Arcadia, 2009) is the fifth instalment in a series featuring private investigator Ricardo Cupido. So far the following titles have been published: El nacimiento de Cupido (1993), El interior del bosque (1999. The Depths of the Forest, 2002), La sangre de los ángeles (2001. Blood of the Angels, 2007), Las manos del pianista (2003. The Pianist’s hands, 2008), Cuerpo a cuerpo (2007. At Close Quartets, 2009). His last book Contrarreloj, 2009 is not available in English yet.
Ricardo Cupido is a sagacious detective and a lonesome fellow. He does focus more on characters rather than events to solve his cases. This is also the first title in which the action doesn’t take place in Breda, the fictitious name that Fuentes has chosen to refer to the actual city of Cáceres in Extremadura. In At Close Quarters we find Cupido in an unnamed city in the Mediterranean coast. It is interesting to note also that Fuentes provides very little information about Cupido in his books.
In the cover we can read the following summary:
“Every day, from his window, Samuel watches as a woman drops off her two children at the bus stop. He is so fascinated by her that, one afternoon when he cannot be at his window to observe her, he leaves his camera programmed to take pictures of her picking up the children. Later, when he looks through the pictures, he not only sees his platonic love, but also an unexpected event that has been photographed. That day, on that corner, a group of teenagers provokes one of the neighbour’s dogs, which manages to jump over the fence to attack and ends up killing one of them. Samuel decides to hide the pictures and, overcoming his shyness, ends up approaching the woman. Her name is Marina, she is recently separated, and the daughter of a high-ranking officer, Captain Olmedo, who is in charge of dismantling the city’s military headquarters. Olmedo, a strict man who likes to do his job right, ends up dead in his house, with a bullet from his own gun, through his chest. His daughter Marina does not believe the official version of the suicide and she hires Cupido, a peaceful detective who will discover hidden secrets as well as the tense relationships of those that surround them. He will investigate Olmedo’s military colleagues, his daughter’s ex-husband, and even the anaesthetist who cared for his wife during her plastic surgery. There are reasons that make all of them suspects.”
Fuentes is a fine writer with and elegant prose and a well documented argument, but he really excels with the great psychological portraits of his characters, which are simply superb. This is a highly recommended book of one of the top crime fiction writers that we have today in Spain.
Eugenio Fuentes was born in Montehermoso, Caceres, Spain in 1958. He is a multi-prize-winning writer who has also published Las batallas de Breda (1990), Tantas mentiras (1997), Venas de nieve (2005) and a short story collection, Vías muertas(1997). He has been translated into more than thirteen languages.