A Shortcut to Paradise (Drecera al paradís, Edicions 62, 2007) is the second novel by Catalan writer Teresa Solana (Barcelona, 1962) featuring twin brothers Eduard and Josep (Pep) Martínez Estivill. But this detail is largely ignored by everyone since Pep introduces himself as Borja Masdéu-Canals Sáez de Astorga. They don’t even look like brothers, due to one of those strange quirks of nature. Borja, like his mother, is handsome and good looking. Eduard looks more normal, like his father. During the last three years they have been running a rather peculiar detective agency, unlicensed. Obviously, they do not get involved with real crimes. They work mainly for the upper class. They buy and sell real-state property undercover, they also provide what can be called ‘delicate arrangements’ and, from time to time, they investigate marital infidelities. Just on one occasion they got involved in a complicated murder case (See her previous novel A Not So Perfect Crime, Bitter Lemon Press, 2008).
One day, while Borja escorts a lady to a literary award ceremony in the luxurious Ritz Hotel in Barcelona, the winner, Marina Dolc, media figure and writer of best-sellers, is murdered. The killer has battered her to death with the trophy she has just won, an end identical to that of the heroine in her prize-winning novel. The same night the Catalan police arrest their chief suspect, Amadeu Cabestany, runner-up for the prize. Borja and Eduard are hired by Cabestany’s literary agent to prove his innocence.
I do not find it necessary to have read the first instalment to fully appreciate the second novel in what can be expected becomes a longer series. All the necessary information is provided to the reader, perfectly integrated into the plot. The story is told from the point of view of Eduard and, sometimes, by a third person narrator. The action develops smoothly, with high doses of humour. I often found myself laughing aloud while reading it. The reader is one step ahead on the events and can easily find the solution to the case. But the detective story plays a secondary role, it is mainly an excuse for a parody of a present-day society. Very well written. A joyful reading. Highly recommended.
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. A Not So Perfect Crime (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. A Shortcut to Paradise (Edicions 62, 2007) is her second novel in the series.
See also: Edicions 62 publicity page, DeBolsillo publicity page, Bitter Lemon Press publicity page. Read an excerpt (in Spanish).
A Shortcut to Paradise has been reviewed by Cruce de Cables (in Spanish)
Atajo al paraíso
Original title: Drecera al paradís
Translated by María Teresa Solana Mir
Number of pages: 286