Thursday, 9 August 2018

#BlogTour The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana


Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana (translation - Peter Bush). Solana moves between cute and crass to bold and timid, and yet the vivid imagery remains the focal point in every story.

About the Author
Born in Barcelona in 1962, Teresa Solana lives in Oxford. She has written several highly acclaimed novels. A Not So Perfect Crime, the first in the Borja and Eduard crime series, won the 2006 Brigada 21 Prize for the best Catalan crime novel. Since then, she has published five more novels. Author of many articles and essays about translation Teresa Solana has also written children's books.
Follow @TeresaSolana1 @bitterlemonpub on Twitter
Buy The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories

About the translator
Peter Bush is a celebrated translator from the Spanish and Catalan, known for his translations of Leonardo Padura, Juan Goytisolo and Josep Pla.


About the book
An impressive and very funny collection of stories by Teresa Solana but the fun is very dark indeed. The oddest things happen. Statues decompose and stink out galleries, two old grandmothers are vengeful killers, and a prehistoric detective trails a triple murder that is threatening cave life as the early innocents knew it. The volume also includes prize-winning Connections, a sparkling web of Barcelona stories--connected by two criminal acts--that allows Solana to explore the darker side of different parts of the city and their seedier inhabitants.

Review
This is a compilation of short stories written by Solana and translated by Peter Bush. The stories all have one thing in common, Solana's tongue-in-cheek macabre wit and a sense of truth within her pithy tales.

The stories are split into two sections: Blood, Guts and Love, and Blood Connections.

Blood, Guts and Love
The First Prehistoric Serial Killer - I wonder if this was picked as the first story because the title is so unusual and draws attention. It isn't the one I would have picked to start the book with, but it is one of the more bizarre ones. Can you imagine prehistoric humans trying out their Sherlockian skills of deduction?
The Son-in-Law - This one was a favourite, perhaps because it is something I would consider doing, although I would pick a cleaner way of getting rid of any evidence. Little old vigilante or justice warrior for the oppressed and the beaten?
Still Life No. 41 - The sad thing about this story is the fact it could absolutely happen, especially in our world of performance art and pretentious supposed art experts with made-up language to make it seem as if a blob on a canvas is indeed the work of an underrated genius.
Happy Families - What a lovely thought, that the previous unlucky inhabitants of a mansion should endeavour to protect and keep new ones safe, even if it's only because some of them want to watch reality tv.
I'm a Vampire - Is it still murder if the victim is a bloodsucking killer? Are you ridding the planet of a danger if you kill a vampire or are you just as bad as the next serial killer?

Connections 
Flesh-Coloured People - Interesting slap back at society and the cross-race effect. The cross-race effect suggests that we are more likely to recognise people who are of the same race as ourselves, and less likely to do so with other races because we think they all look alike. Very important when it comes to witnesses of crime and also the reason many innocent people are 'identified' as possible culprits.
The Second Mrs Appleton - Proof that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and that sometimes you end up with the person you deserve. Just because a diamond is more flashy and seductive it doesn't mean it is worth more than the more understated gem.
Paradise Gained - I guess this is what you would call an ironic twist. A thief asking another thief to take care of his money and then being surprised when the inevitable happens, and yet he still doesn't learn his lesson.
Mansion with Sea views - What are the chances of kindred spirits doing each other a murderous favour without even being aware of each other? But is he the same, should all killers be judged by the same criteria?
I Detest Mozart - The irony in this story is the fact the killer is punished by the hell which made her kill in the first place. Her own private inferno on a loop until she dies.
Birds of a Feather - Never underestimate any person, but especially not those you think are incapable of sinking to the lowest level to get what they want or in this case to get their revenge. Just because it looks like a Siamese cat it doesn't mean there isn't a lion hidden underneath waiting to devour you.
Barcelona, Mon Amour - You can take the girl out of the city, but never the city out of the girl. You also can't just leave old habits behind, somehow they are always lurking in the shadows waiting to be picked back up again.
But There was another solution - Sometimes it is better to just forget and get on with things. Why mess up a good business opportunity just for the sake of being on the right side of the law, especially when you were never quite on the right side to begin with.

The stories are all amusing and ironic, the common thread between them is the where and the love for the city. The other element that connects them is the base nature of human beings. Nobody is perfect in this shiny polished world and everyone has secrets they want to hide. Some more than others perhaps.

Each story is a small universe in itself, despite there being connections along the way. You can read one and be satisfied and return for the next one a little later. A wee bit like a box of chocolates and never knowing whether to expect a soft caramel or nut in the middle, and always wanting to go back for one more morsel.

It's noir with a flair for the more macabre, but with a solid sense of surroundings. The reader can imagine sitting and watching each drama unfold. Solana moves between cute and crass to bold and timid, and yet the vivid imagery remains the focal point in every story. It has certainly convinced me to pick up one of her novels to read.

Buy The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other Stories at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Pub Date: August 10, 2018

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