Day: April 4, 2014

Review: The City of Shadows by Michael Russell

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Avon, 2012. (Kindle Edition). 606 KB. ISBN-13: 978-1847563460. ASIN: B007WOC3EI. 432 pages.

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The City of Shadows takes place in the mid-30s of the last century. Specifically in late 1934 and during 1935, after a first chapter that unfolds during the 31st International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin in 1932. The events described are located in Ireland, mainly in Dublin, in rural Wicklow, and in the Free City of Danzig. For those of us who are not familiar enough with this period, I’d suggest reading the entry about The Irish Free State in Wikipedia. Though it is certainly a work of fiction, the reader will find some characters that existed in reality, like Edward O’Rourke and Seán Lester, besides the Nazis Arthur Greiser and Adolf Mahr.

The main plot revolves around the disappearance of Susan Field, a young Jewish woman who has become pregnant by a Catholic priest. Her best friend Hannah Rose who is living in Palestine (see Wikipedia article Mandatory Palestine) returns to Ireland in her quest.

One day, Hannah Rose is arrested by DS Stefan Gillespie while she was in an abortion clinic together with a certain Dr. Hugo Keller and his nurse. However, they will be released immediately by two fellow members of Garda Special Branch. Although his immediate superior tells Gillespie that the case is closed and out of their hands, he is determined to find out what’s going on.

As the story unfolds, DS Gillespie and Hannah will join forces to discover the truth about the fate of Susan. This will take them to the Free City of Danzig in one of the darkest hours in its history.

I fully agree with Rob Kitchin when he states that The City of Shadows is quite simply a brilliant crime novel and, for my taste, also works extremely well at all levels. The story is very well thought-out and it is nicely written, consequently it serves efficiently to an exciting plot. It is also quite attractive and very well documented. The complexity of the plot and of the subplots do not undermine the clarity of the narrative, quite contrary, it is easy to read and awfully enjoyable. Besides the story has a great sense of place, the characters are beautifully drawn and the author accomplishes to recreate with success the atmosphere of those times. I strongly recommend this book and I look forward to The City of Strangers

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

Michael Russell is a writer with an extensive background in television drama in Britain and Ireland; in particular crime drama, including The Bill, Between the Lines, The Chief, Heartbeat, Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost.  He also worked in farming in North Devon and for Yorkshire Television as both a script editor and producer. He is the author of the successful Stefan Gillespie historical detective novels, The City of Shadows and The City of Strangers, set in Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s, and in many of the cities that played an important part in the lead up to the Second World War and later in the war itself: Dublin, Danzig, New York, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, London, Rome and Vienna. He started writing for television in order to earn enough of a living to write novels, and after many years finally got round to doing what he meant to do in the first place: write novels. Michael lives in West Wicklow, which is at the heart of the Stefan Gillespie novels, with his family and various animals, not far from where Detective Sergeant Gillespie grew up… (Website about Michael Russell’s Stefan Gillespie Novels).

The City of Shadows was longlisted for the CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger Award 2013.

The City of Shadows has been reviewed at The View from the Blue House (Rob),  Reviewing the evidence (Arnold Taylor), Crime Squad, Writing.ie (Louise Phillips)

Website about Michael Russell’s Stefan Gillespie Novels

The City of Shadows: Louise Phillips talks to Michael Russell

The City of Shadows: War and the Rumour Of War

HarperCollins

La ciudad de las sombras de Michael Russell

La ciudad de las sombras se desarrolla a mediados de los años 30 del siglo pasado. En concreto a finales del 1934 y durante el 1935, después de un primer capítulo que tiene lugar durante el XXXI Congreso Eucarístico Internacional celebrado en Dublín en 1932. Los hechos descritos se situan en Irlanda, sobre todo en Dublín, en la zona rural de Wicklow y en la Ciudad libre de Dánzig. Para aquellos de nosotros que no estamos lo suficientemente familiarizados con este período, me gustaría sugerir la lectura de la entrada sobre el Estado Libre Irlandés en Wikipedia. Aunque sin duda es una obra de ficción, el lector se encontrará con algunos personajes que existieron en la realidad, como Edward O’Rourke y Seán Lester, además de los nazis Arthur Greiser y Adolf Mahr.

La trama principal gira en torno a la desaparición de Susan Field, una joven judía que ha quedado embarazada por un sacerdote católico. Su mejor amiga Hannah Rose que está viviendo en Palestina (véase el artículo de Wikipedia Mandato británico de Palestina) regresa a Irlanda en su búsqueda.

Un día, Hannah Rose es arrestada por el DS Stefan Gillespie cuando se encontraba en una clínica abortista, junto con un tal Dr. Hugo Keller y su enfermera. Sin embargo, serán puestos en libertad de inmediato por dos compañeros de la Brigada Especial de la Garda Síochána. Pese a que su superior inmediato le dice a Gillespie que el caso está cerrado y fuera de sus manos, él está dispuesto averiguar lo que está pasando.

Conforme se desarrolla la historia, el DS Gillespie y Hannah unirán sus fuerzas para descubrir la verdad sobre la suerte de Susan. Esto les llevará a la Ciudad Libre de Danzig en una de las horas más oscuras de su historia.

Estoy completamente de acuerdo con Rob Kitchin cuando afirma que La ciudad de las sombras es, sencillamente, una novela negra brillante y, para mi gusto, también funciona muy bien a todos los niveles. La historia está muy bien pensada y muy bien escrita, en consecuencia sirve eficientemente a una trama apasionante. También resulta muy atractiva y está muy bien documentada. La complejidad de la trama y de los argumentos secundarios no minan la claridad de la narración, muy al contrario, resulta fácil de leer y es muy entretenida. Además la historia tiene un gran sentido del lugar, los personajes están muy bien dibujados y el autor consigue recrear con éxito la atmósfera de aquellos tiempos. Recomiendo este libro y espero con gran interés La ciudad de los desconocidos.

Mi calificación: A+ (No se lo pierda, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Michael Russell es un escritor con una amplia experiencia en espacios dramáticos para la televisión del Reino Unido e Irlanda; en particular, en dramas policíacos, incluyendo títulos tales como The Bill, Between the Lines, The Chief, Heartbeat, Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost. También se dedicó a la agricultura en el norte de Devon y trabajó para la televisión de Yorkshire como editor de guiones y como productor. Es autor de las exitosas novelas históricas de detectives protagonizadas por Stefan Gillespie, La ciudad de las sombras y La ciudad de los desconocidos, ambientadas en Irlanda en los años 1930 y 1940, y en muchas de las ciudades que han jugado un papel importante en el período previo a la Segunda guerra Mundial y más tarde durante la guerra: Dublin, Danzig, Nueva York, Lisboa, Madrid, Berlín, Londres, Roma y Viena. Empezó a escribir para la televisión con el fin de ganar lo suficiente para poder escribir novelas, y tras muchos años, finalmente consiguó hacer lo que más quería, escribir novelas. Michael vive en West Wicklow, el lugar situado en el centro de las novelas de Stefan Gillespie, con su familia y varios animales, no lejos de donde creció el detective sargento Gillespie … (Tomado de la página web sobre las novelas protagonizadas por Stefan Gillespie de Michael Russell. La traducción libre es mía).

La ciudad de las sombras estuvo seleccionada inicialmente al Premio Dagger John Creasy de la CWA en su edición del 2013.

Film Premiere: Quai d’Orsay (2013) directed by Bernard Tavernier

Quai d’Orsay (The French Minister) is a 2013 political satire directed by veteran filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, written by Christophe Blain, Abel Lanzac (based on the graphic novel by Abel Lanzac) and stars Thierry Lhermitte, Raphaël Personnaz and Niels Arestrup, Bruno Raffaelli, Julie Gayet, Anaïs Demoustier and Thomas Chabrol. The film premiered at the 38th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held last year. It will be released in Spain on 4th April, 2014. I’m looking forward to it. Stay tuned.

Synopsis: Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is tall and impressive, a man with style, attractive to women. He also happens to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the land of enlightenment: France.

With his silver mane and tanned, athletic body, he stalks the world stage, from the floor of the United Nations in New York to the powder keg of Oubanga. There, he calls on the powerful and invokes the mighty to bring peace, to calm the trigger-happy, and to cement his aura of Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-waiting. Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is a force to be reckoned with, waging his own war backed up by the holy trinity of diplomatic concepts: legitimacy, lucidity and efficacy.

He takes on American neo-cons, corrupt Russians and money-grabbing Chinese. Perhaps the world doesn’t deserve France’s magnanimousness, but his art would be wasted if just restricted to home turf.

Enter the young Arthur Vlaminck, graduate of the elite National School of Administration, who is hired as head of “language” at the foreign ministry. In other words, he is to write the minister’s speeches. But he also has to learn to deal with the sensibilities of the boss and his entourage, and find his way between the private secretary and the special advisors who stalk the corridors of the Quai d’Orsay – the ministry’s home – where stress, ambition and dirty dealing are the daily currency. But just as he thinks he can influence the fate of the world, everything seems threatened by the inertia of the technocrats.