Last Acquisitions

Blanco nocturno (Nocturnal Target) by Ricardo Piglia, Anagrama 2010. The blurb reads: ‘Tony Duran, born in Puerto Rico, educated as an American in New Jersey, was killed in the early seventies in a village in the province of Buenos Aires. He came following the beautiful Belladonna sisters, the twins Ada and Sofia. He met them in Atlantic City, and they hatched a happy trio until one of them, Sofia, deserted the game. And Tony Duran remained with Ada, and followed her to Argentina, where he met his death. After the crime, the detective story mutates into a story tied to archaeology and to family dynasties, which combines a genre novel with a splendid literary construction. The luminous centre of this book is Luca Belladonna, builder of a ghostly factory lost following an insane project. The appearance of Emilio Renzi, a traditional Piglia character, gives a wry and touching conclusion to the story.’

Almas grises (Grey Souls) by Philippe Claudel, Salamandra, 2010. From Fantastic Fiction: ‘This is ostensibly a detective story, about a crime that is committed in 1917, and solved 20 years later. The location is a small town in Northern France, near V., in the dead of the freezing winter. The war is still being fought in the trenches, within sight and sound of the town, but the men of the town have been spared the slaughter because they are needed in the local factory. One morning a beautiful ten year old girl, one of the three daughters of the innkeeper, is found strangled and dumped in the canal. Suspicion falls on two deserters who are picked up near the town. Their interrogation and sentencing is brutal and swift. Twenty years later, the narrator, a local policeman, puts together what actually happened. On the night the deserters were arrested and interrogated, he was sitting by the beside of his dying wife. He believes that justice was not done and wants to set the record straight. But the death of the child was not the only crime committed in the town during those weeks. More than one record has to be set straight. Beautiful, like a fairy story almost, frozen in time, this novel has an hypnotic quality.’

Testigo involuntario (Involuntary Witness) by Gianrico Carofiglio, books4pocket, 2010. Bitter Lemon Press publicity page reads: ‘A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. In what looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerrieri, counsel for the defence, a Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. Faced with small-town racism fuelled by the recent immigration from Africa, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts’.

El tiempo de los emperadores extraños (The Time of the Strange Emperors) by Ignacio del Valle, Punto de lectura 2007. The publisher’s blurb reads: ‘Leningrad Battle Front. 1943. The Blue Division is trapped between the Red Army and History in the middle of the frozen Hades which was the Russian battle front. The corpse of a soldier is discovered in this scenery. The victim’s neck has been cut off and buried up to the waist in a frozen lake. A mysterious sentence has been written on his chest: “TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT GOD’S WATCHING YOU”. Arturo Andrade and Sergeant Espinosa will be in charge of finding out the causes of the crime. This will lead them, among corpses surrounded by bloody rituals, to an obscure place where emptiness, absurdity and horror reign… the strange emperors’.  For additional information about the Blue Division you can check the Wikipedia entry HERE.

To my knowledge Nocturnal Target and The Time of the Strange Emperors have not been translated into English. The Time of the Strange Emperors has been published in France recently.

Does any of these stories, authors or titles look attractive to you? Since I cannot make up  my mind. Which one should I read first? Your comments are welcome.