A Shortcut to Paradise by Teresa Solana and Peter Bush

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A Shortcut to Paradise by Teresa Solana and Peter Bush
Buy A Shortcut to Paradise from Amazon.co.uk

Buy A Shortcut to Paradise from Amazon.com

Genre: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A tongue-in-cheek take on a Spanish-based crime. Solana has great fun with the literary world as it is taken apart by a couple of 'investigating' individuals, hell-bent on justice being served in the right quarters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 235 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
ISBN: 978-1904738558

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The characters are introduced to the reader one at a time. The main ones have a whole chapter or two to tell their story, including a bit of background information but aside from all of this, they all seem to have some sort of connection to a swish, literary event. So, for example, there's a young, rather frazzled husband called Ernest. You can tell that he's a kindly, mild person. He takes his role as father, husband and (although meagre) breadwinner very, very seriously. He's a translator. He's had some bad luck to contend with lately and the household bills are piling up but he spares his wife the sorry details of their current financial state. But all he's doing is piling on the pressure for himself. Something's got to give ... and it does. Big-time. And without wishing to spoil the plot in any way, I think I can safely say that he ... decided to put himself into the shoes of the heroes he translated and, for the first time in his life, he took the bull by the horns.

The story is based in a sultry and sweltering Barcelona: Solana says ... the streets were a morass of cars, noise and fumes. And in amongst all this oppressive and uncomfortable heat, there's also a mass of literary types attending an event in the city centre. The recipient is a middle-aged writer, Marina Dolc. But although she is a best-seller, her books are not universally loved. There's the odd reviewer out there using an acid pen, shall we say. And the similarity with what I'm actually doing right now in writing this review, is not lost on me. In fact, as I read further into this novel, I appreciated the whole set-up courtesy of Solana. Some would even call it a delicious send-up.

And so snobbery within this fictional literary world rears its ugly head. The reader learns the fate of Marina and we've introduced to several new characters, who all make the central plot more interesting and more complex. For example, there's a rather serious writer who's furious not to have won this prestigious prize. He thinks that Dolc writes trash - only fit for silly, suburban housewives. But it's trash which sells. His books do not. Go figure, as they say.

And interspersed with all of this literary mayhem, we meet the two rather unorthodox Spanish gents who somehow, become embroiled in the whole Dolc case. It's all good, clean fun at the end of the day as well as being entertaining reading. Solana has a nice, easy style. She's also playful and teasing - just like a cat playing mercilessly with a mouse. I particularly enjoyed those characters who had a ridiculously high level of self-importance. I also found the ending to be satisfying and - just like Hercule Poirot, all questions are neatly answered. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell.

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