Barcelona Shadows (Original Title: La mala dona) by Marc Pastor

Marc Pastor (Barcelona, 1977) is a Spanish writer who holds a degree in Criminology and Criminal Policy. He works for the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force in the scientific squad, and is also the author of four novels, Montecristo (Proa, 2007), La mala dona (La Magrana, 2008), L’any de la plaga (La Magrana, 2010) and Bioko (Ara Llibres, 2013). He writes in Catalan.

La mala dona (Barcelona Shadows) is a novel based upon the recreation of real events that took place in Barcelona at the start of the 20th century in the Barri Xino, a tough red-light district in the city at that time. The reader gets a glimpse of dark and seedy corners of the neighbourhood through a fictional police investigation carried out by Inspectors Corvo and Malsano, in their pursuit of Enriqueta Martí, one of the most fearsome criminals in the city. Known as the ‘Vampiress of Ponent Street’, she abducts small children to either sell them to paedophiles or kill them, drink their blood and use their remains to make ointments for the rich. The novel combines intrigue, terror and police investigation from a unique perspective and creates a gothic atmosphere reminiscent of works by Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. Death is the omniscient narrative voice in this work that is part historical novel and part detective story. Well researched and carefully constructed, it displays great narrative agility combined with a strong cinematographic touch. (Information taken from Catalan literature online

Pushkin Press

RBA (in Spanish)

La Magrana (in Catalan)

Read some reviews of Barcelona Shadows at The Independent and The Telegraph.

Raven at Raven Crime Reads wrote about this book: I concede that this dark tale, populated by a cast of grotesques and infused with a visceral wit, may not be to everyone’s taste, but it really tapped into the dark imaginings of the human psyche. All in all, a clever, parodic novel that will appeal to those who actively search out something different within the crime genre and an entirely satisfying read at that.

I’m most grateful to Raven for bringing to my attention this book. Plan to read it shortly. Stay tuned.

La mala dona was awarded the first literary prize Crims de Tinta in 2008.

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