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.
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
Labels: Barcelona, Camarón de la Isla, Carmen Linares, Dominic Martell, flamenco, music, Sam Reaves, Spain