INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER • WINNER OF SPAIN’S BIGGEST LITERARY PRIZE • Barcelona detective Melchor Marín is sent to the countryside to investigate a horrific double murder. Before long, it becomes clear that nothing about the case is quite as it seems in this “sweeping romantic novel in the form of a police procedural” (Wall Street Journal).
The first book in the internationally acclaimed series: Melchor, the son of a prostitute, went to prison as a teenager, convicted of working for a Colombian drug cartel. Behind bars, he read a book that changed his life: Les Misérables. Then his mother was murdered. He decided to become a cop.
This new case, in Terra Alta, a remote region of rural Catalonia—the murder of a wealthy local man and his wife—will turn Melchor’s life upside down yet again.
Even the Darkest Night is a thought-provoking, elegantly constructed thriller about justice, revenge, and, above all, the struggles of a righteous man trying to find his place in a corrupt world.
The shadow of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables looms large over the engrossing latest from Spanish writer Cercas (Outlaws). Hugo's classic is the favorite of ex-con Melchor Marín, who read the book while serving time for his involvement with a Colombian drug cartel and who identifies with police inspector Javert, whom he thinks of as a "false bad guy." Now a detective in the Spanish town of Terra Alta, Melchor begins to channel some of Javert's implacable pursuit of justice in his investigation of the murder of a printing magnate and his wife. Though the businessman had many enemies, no evidence turns up to implicate anyone for the crime, prompting his department to close the case. That rankles Melchor, in part because it reminds him of the death of his mother, a sex worker whose murder was never solved. Melchor's dogged determination to keep investigating the case behind the backs of his superiors eventually risks danger to himself and his loved ones. While Cercas resorts to lengthy swaths of exposition to relate the characters' back stories, the narrative is generally well paced and suspenseful, and a surprise ending firmly roots the novel in Spain's troubled 20th-century history and brings Melchor's Javert fixation full circle. Fans of literary detective novels ought to take a look.