Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gitana, or a wallow in Dominic Martell's world

was listening to Camarón de la Isla when I received Sam Reaves' e-mail about the novels he publishes under the name Dominic Martell.  The coincidence was a happy one; the novels are set in Barcelona, the third of the three is called Gitana, and Camarón was a Gitano (a Spanish Roma, or Gypsy) and one of the greatest of all flamenco singers.

So I began with Gitana, and, sure enough, Camarón gets a mention early on, and so does the great Carmen Linares. Lots of crime novels are suffused with atmosphere, but  Gitana is almost entirely atmosphere through its opening pages — not a bad thing if the setting is Barcelona and the atmosphere is in large measure music.

Camarón de la Isla (Hear and see Camarón sing 
"Soy Gitano")
The first two chapters—and Martell works lots of short scenes into a chapter—only reveal gradually that one of the characters, Pascual Rose, has a past. For most of the opening chapters, the characters hang around bars and clubs and talk about their city or about breaking away to flamenco's big time in Madrid or Seville. Even the opening scene, in which Pascual narrowly escapes a severe beating that leaves the assailants much the worse for their efforts, comes off as just one more incident in the flow of incident and conversation:
"Hours of proximity, long stretches of sociability in agreeable company, shared tedium and fatigue."
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Anonymous James R Benn said...

I hadn't known about the Martell novels - will have to check them out for a mental return to Barcelona!

October 20, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Jim: Look for Dominic/Sam at Bouchercons. He often attends, and he was in Albany with us. I first met him and learned about his work at another convention, evidence these cons are a good thing.

As for crime fiction that will take you back to Barcelona, I'll assume you've read Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. Now, there was a man in love with his city, his food, his politics, and, almost incidentally, crime. And his protagonist, Pepe Carvalho, is no cozy eccentric, either.

In Barcelona, I visited Park Güell, and a cab driver asked me how I had liked it. My Spanish is less than even rudimentary, so I replied: "Un trip sin drogas."

October 20, 2013  
Blogger Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

These are writers I have put on my To-Read List for Winter.

As ever, thanks for sharing, Peter.

October 23, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You've just given me an idea for a blog post. You'll see it when the post goes up!

October 23, 2013  

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