Ojos de agua (Water-Blue Eyes) – Domingo Villar

Ojos de agua. Domingo Villar. Debolsillo. 2009. 192 p. ISBN: 978-84-8346-495-3.

I’m most grateful to Alice at Mis Detectives Favorit@s. She recommended me this book for the European leg of Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge. I finally choose one by Alicia Giménez Bartlett instead but I was pretty sure that I was going to read Water-Blue Eyes following her advice very soon. Thanks Alice for your excellent suggestion.

Ojos de agua (2006), English title Water-Blue Eyes (2008), is Domingo Villar’s first novel. It was originally published in Gallego as Ollos de auga (2006) and translated into Spanish by the author. The action takes place in Vigo, Galicia where the body of a saxophonist is found tortured to death in his duplex at Toralla’s island. It is an unusually cruel murder. The body was tied by the wrists to the bed’s headboard bearing hideous burns across its midsection. Villar pays homage to Andrea Camilleri, The Terracotta Dog is found among the books in the bedside table of the victim.

The main characters in charge of this case are police inspector Leo Caldas and his assistant Rafael Estévez. Inspector Caldas is the son of a wine producer from whom Leo has developed a taste for local white wines and the excellent local seafood. Caldas also collaborates in a radio programme called “Patrol on the Air”. Rafael Estévez, a Saragossa native, is completely lost in Galicia where both the character of the people and their language are quite different. (The scene about the coke with ice is particularly funny).Ojos de agua

The investigation will take them almost everywhere in Vigo, and when Caldas, following only his intuition, gets closer to untangle the case a couple of twists will keep our interest until the very end.

I have enjoyed very much reading this book. The plot is interesting but the characters are superb and it is written with a nice sense of humour. Domingo Villar is a very promising Spanish author. His second book in the series featuring the tandem Caldas-Estévez La playa de los ahogados (The Beach of the Drowned) was quite a success last year in Spain. I hope to read it soon.

Domingo Villar was born in 1971 and lives in Madrid. He is a radio food critic and frequent contributor to various periodicals and he has also written scripts for film and television. Water-blue Eyes won both the Brigada 21 Prize for best first crime novel as well as the Sintagma Prize.

There is an excellent review of Water-Blue Eyes by Glenn Harper at International Noir Fiction.

Arcadia Books

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DMVM – Asesinato en el Comité Central – Manuel Vazquez Montalbán

Murder in the CCAsesinato en el Comité Central. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. Planeta 1981. 298 p. ISBN: 84-320-5542-5.

I’ve just begin to read this year, as a personal challenge, the complete Carvalho series by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in order of publication. I did read most of these books when they were first published. In my opinion they provide an excellent account of the social and political changes that took place in Spain from 1974 until his death in 2003.

I started last January with his first detective novel Tattoo (Tatuaje, 1974). Although Pepe Carvalho made his first public appearance in Yo maté a Kennedy (1972), this book does not belong to the genre. What Montalban did was to borrow his character because it just suit him well when he bet he was able to write in a fortnight a detective novel (Tattoo).

Asesinato en el Comité Central was published by Planeta in 1981. It was written between April 1979 and January 1981. In English it was first published by Pluto Press, London in 1984 as Murder in the Central Committee. In my personal count this is Carvalho series # 4.

In this case Pepe Carvalho leaves his hometown Barcelona and heads to Madrid. This will give him the opportunity to submit Madrid to a close scrutiny. Carvalho has been hired by the Spanish Communist Party to investigate the murder of their Secretary General Fernando Garrido. He must join forces with the official investigation, lead by the anti-communist Fonseca, with whom Carvalho (a former communist and former CIA agent) has an unsettled past. Asesinato en el Comite Central

The facts are that the lights went off during a meeting of the Central Committee. Everybody suspects it’s just a power failure, but when the lights returned after a short period of time, Fernando Garrido was slumped over the table. Somebody had stabbed him to death.

As a political thriller it was great fun back in 1981 to identify who, in real life, was behind each character. However I’m very much afraid that this book doesn’t pass well the test of time. Although it is wonderfully written, we are left with an unfinished plot in which too many questions remain unanswered and unless you are very much interested in Spanish history or in the history of the Spanish Communist Party, it might be difficult for you to find it very attractive.

Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in Wikipedia

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