Solana, Teresa - 'A Not So Perfect Crime' (translated by Peter Bush)
A NOT SO PERFECT CRIME is set in Barcelona, and is translated from Catalan by Peter Bush.
Two brothers work together as high society fixers. They have an office, with a single room, but fake doors to their 'real' offices, a non-existent secretary and a non-functioning but impressive Mac computer on the desk. Eduard is married to Montse, and has three children. His twin brother, Pep, disappeared for 15 years or more but then came back re-invented as Borja and tempted his brother away from his bank job, where he was shortly about to become redundant, and into this new way of life. Borja is the lover of Merce, who is married and well off. Montse has no idea that Borja is Eduard's brother, and neither does anyone else.
While sat in their office one morning, just before Christmas, they are approached in confidence by a well-known politician, Mr Lluis Font. He has discovered a painting of his wife Lidia, by a well-known artist originally from Barcelona (Pau Ferrer), which he knew nothing about, and now suspects his wife of having an affair with the painter. He's worried about the scandal this might create, and the effects on his career if it became known. He asks the two consultants to discretely find out if his wife is up to anything. They do their duty, ask around, and follow her for a week, but then she is found dead, having eaten a poisoned Marron Glace, a type of sweet that everyone knows she is very fond of, and the discrete investigation now becomes dedicated into finding out who killed her.
The contrast between the sophisticated Borja, who always seems to know just the right thing to say, even in a difficult situation, and the narrator of the story, the more conservative Eduard, works very well. In fact it is Eduard who manages to first discover the identity of the poisoner, with his brother's help of course. The contrast between the rich, a class which Borja seems to have infiltrated, and the middle class, of which Eduard is firmly a part of, and the mild contempt of one for the other, forms a key part of the story. Eduard's nervousness in the company of the rich is luckily always compensated for by Borja's ease. At home, Eduard is consumed with worry about keeping his wife in the dark about what he really does, and who Borja is, compounded, when Borja develops a relationship with Montse's sister, which makes for much amusing reading. The pair of detectives are charming and very likeable, and despite getting into quite a few amusing scrapes, and often fitting in their detective work around other more important stuff, such as dinner with the family, they do eventually get to the truth. This was a fascinating, amusing and very entertaining crime novel, which deserves a wide readership.
Michelle Peckham, England
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