RARA-AVIS: Montalban

From: Mbdlevin@aol.com
Date: 03 Jan 2002

Does Montalban count for this month's theme? Anyway, I read, "The Angst-Ridden Detective" (Serpent's Tail, translated edition), which is (I think) the first novel featuring P.I. Pepe Carvalho. Not excessively hard-boiled, but some rough spots. The novel gives Montalban an occasion to write a fair amount about food--which he does quite well--though the food talk is not too violent. The novel does not have a huge amount of narrative drive; it sort of pessimistically winds down. More than anything, it provides an interesting picture of immediately post-Franco Spain (the novel was published in 1977). The book is mostly set in Barcelona. Montalban has written many more Carvalho novels and others as well. He also writes a column for El Pais (a major newspaper). I'm now reading Paco Taibo II (An Easy Thing)--will report later. Montalban is lighter and more eccentric than Taibo. A side note: I also recently read the first James McClure police procedural set in apartheid South Africa (The Steam Pig): hard, good, interesting. As in the case of the Montalban, part of the pleasure comes from the exoticism and a new set of social rules that of course differ markedly from what we see in U.S. crime fiction. Doug

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