The White Gallows by Rob Kitchin

WhiteGallowscover Rob Kitchin. The White Gallows. IndePenPress 2010. 324 pages. ISBN: 978-1-907499-37-1 .

My special thanks to the author for sending me a signed copy of this book.  

An unidentified body has been found Near Trim Castle. A young man, maybe a Lithuanian immigrant, has been beaten to death, probably stabbed. At the crime scene DS Colm McEvoy from the NBCI, the branch of the Gardai that investigates the country’s most serious crimes, is in badly need of a decent night sleep. His insomnia has increased after the killing spree of the Raven six months earlier (see my post on The Rule Book here) besides he has several other active cases.

As a consequence of the economic downturn recruitment and promotion in the public sector has been suspended, the NBCI is no exception. Senior officers are being encouraged to take early retirement without replacement and contract staff is being laid off at the end of their terms.

And the murder rate in Ireland is soaring. On that very same day another immigrant, Albert Koch, has been found dead asleep. The doctor claim he died from natural cases but a local garda casts some doubts, his head has been bashed and the body moved. An overstressed McEvoy is sent to investigate. Koch was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland and founder of Ostara Industries, the biggest employer of miles around. Soon the investigation raises questions about Koch’s past, his possible participation in the Holocaust and the obscure origin of his fortune.

Within the course of a week we will be following McEvoy. Besides his insomnia he doesn’t eat well and his private life is not easy either. While he is still mourning his wife a year after her death, he feels guilty for not taking proper care of his twelve-year-old daughter. He is also struggling to give up smoking what makes him often irritable. A close woman colleague has been severely wounded and he finds himself sexually attracted to another one. On top of that his relationship with his boss is not easy to say the least, the local police officials are being unhelpful and the rich and influential Koch family is uncooperative.

The White Gallows is the second novel of Rob Kitchin featuring DS Colm McEvoy. It is an amazing police procedure with a great sense of place. The plot evolves at a right pace and Kitchin masterfully draws very real and human characters. We can easily identify with McEvoy, share his emotions and feel his frustrations. The story is complex but the pieces finally fit together. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. A highly recommended novel and I’m looking forward to read his third book in the series.

Author’s website.

Rob Kitchin blogs at The View from the Blue House.

The White Gallows has been reviewed by Reactions to Reading, DJs Krimiblog, Kittling Books, International Noir Fiction, Mack Captures Crime, Crime Scraps, Mysteries in Paradise, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You?

Of Books and Bookshops

TBR-2 022 Estudio en Escarlata is a bookshop in Madrid which is always worthwhile a visit. I went today with my book list. I make lists after having bought several times a book that I already had.

My intention was to buy mainly books in Spanish from Spanish and Latin-American authors. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Guillermo Orsi’s Ciudad Santa (Holy City) and Nadie ama a un policía (No-One Loves a Policeman) were sold out. And it was not worth to order them; most business are closed in Spain during August and publishers won’t send them before September.  The same thing happened with Teresa Solana’s Atajo al Paraíso (A short Cut to Paradise). However I did manage to buy the three books in the photo; the three well below the 300 page benchmark.

A Short Cut to Paradise by Teresa Solana

Original title: Drecera al paradís. Translated by Peter Bush. Bitter Lemon Press (10 Feb. 2011) This title has not been released yet but it is available for pre-order at Amazon UK.

The blurb reads: Marina Dolç, media figure and writer of bestsellers, is murdered in at the Ritz in Barcelona on the night she wins an important literary prize. The killer has battered her to death with the trophy she has just won. The detective twins Borja and Eduard are plunged into the murky waters of the bookish Barcelona scene and need all their wit and skills of improvisation to solve this case of truncated literary lives.
As in A Not So Perfect Crime, Teresa Solana combines humour and roman noir in a critical portrait of contemporary society, in this case with writers as the protagonists. The murder trail leads to the most unlikely places in hilarious scenes worthy of Tom Sharpe, whether in the sausage-making town of Vic, the packed cells of the notorious Modelo prison, or a literary party where guests get high on loaded canapés.
(Fantastic Fiction)

Teresa Solana was born in Barcelona in 1962. She has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Barcelona where she also studied Classical Philology. She is a literary translator and author of articles and essays about translation and has directed the Translators’ House in Tarazona. An Imperfect Crime ( Un crim imperfecte. Edicions 62, 2006) is her first book. With this generic novel she has begun a series centred around two very different twins who team up to create a curious consulting company and end up becoming detectives. Short Cut to Paradise (Drecera al paradís. Edicions 62, 2007), the second novel of the series, builds a caustic and amusing satire about writers and the literary world. Her latest book Negres Tempestes won this year the Crims de Tinta Award.

A Not So Perfect Crime has been reviewed at: Euro Crime (minor spoiler alert though), Reviewing the Evidence, The Complete Review, Reactions to Reading.

My apologize for not having read these books, but I thought that the information above is worthwhile.

La venganza del silencio by Alonso Cueto

Alonso Cueto (Lima, 1954) is the author of several novels, short stories and essays. He recently published a study on Uruguayan writer Juan Carlos Onetti, El Soñador en la Penumbra (Fondo Cultural Económica, 2009). Cueto has won several distinctions for his literary work, including the prestigious Herralde Award (Spain 2005) for his novel La Hora Azul (The Blue Hour), the 2007 Casa de Américas-Planeta second-place prize for his novel Susurro de la Mujer Ballena (Sigh of the Whale Woman) and the Anna Seghers Prize for his body of work (Germany, 2000).  He also received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation grant in 2002. Filmmaker Francisco Lombardi adapted Cueto’s novel Grandes Miradas (Knowing Gazes) to the screen in “Mariposa Negra,” which won several international awards. Cueto’s work has been translated into 15 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Random House recently bought the rights for the English-language translation of La Hora Azul.  Cueto lives in Lima, Peru, where he teaches literature and writing workshops at the Universidad Católica. (From Alonso Cueto’s website here, the rest is in Spanish)

From Cueto I have read only La hora azul (The Blue Hour) and I liked it. His latest book, a crime fiction novel, La venganza del silencio (Revenge of Silence),  tells the story tale of a man who wants to solve a murder. Everything takes place in an aristocratic Lima family, whose life was spent in apparent normality until the day of the crime.. It has received excellent reviews. Unfortunately it does not seem to be available in Spain yet but I will try to get a copy from some Peruvian friends.

Read the first chapter here (in Spanish)

There is work ahead to do

Once the 2010 International Dagger Award has been announced I look forward to the 2011 International Dagger Award. You can check at Euro Crime here the list, so far, of translated crime novels published between June 2010 and May 2011 ie the period of eligibility.

I have only read one, Mankell’s The Troubled Man (El hombre inquieto) in Spanish – you can check my post here, but I have just started to read Villar’s Death on a Galician Shore (La playa de los ahogados) and I’ve Markaris’ Basic Shareholder (El accionista mayoritario) as my third European book on Dorte’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge. I do not plan to read them all, but there are very interesting titles just to keep me going. There is work ahead to do.

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