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Not So Perfect Crime, A (Borja and Eduard Barcelona Murder Mysteries) [Paperback]

Teresa Solana
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Sep 2008 Borja and Eduard Barcelona Murder Mysteries (Book 2)
A politician discovers a portrait of his wife in a Paris exhibition that leads him to conclude that she is having an affair with the artist. He hires two inexperienced private detectives - non-identical twins - to investigate but the case turns ugly when she is found poisoned. The sudden twists and turns in plot and dark humour make this satire of Catalan politics a fascinating insight into the life of Barcelona's inhabitants, both by day and night.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; Tra edition (11 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904738346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904738343
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 619,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Scathing satire of Spanish society, hilarious dialogue, all beautifully dressed up as a crime novel"'--Krimi-Couch"'A first novel that's spread like wildfire by word of mouth.'--El Avui 'Teresa Solana is great proof of the vitality of the roman noir in Catalan... A wonderfully ironic hymn to the city of Barcelona.'--Diari de Balears

About the Author

Teresa Solana lives in Barcelona. Born in 1962, she studied philosophy and worked as a literary translator and essayist. She has written several novels kept quietly in her drawer. A Not So Perfect Crime, her first published title, won the 2007 Brigada 21 Prize for the best Catalan mystery novel.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winning Barcelona Caper 11 Dec 2008
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Any crime writer seeking to use Barcelona as a setting must contend with the extremely long shadow cast by the godfather of Spanish crime, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, whose 16-book "Pepe Carvalho" series, which is also set there. Fortunately, Solana manages to make the city sing in the service of her odd couple detecting duo. Eduard and Borja are the middle-aged co-directors of a slightly shady firm of "fixers" consisting of themselves, a fictional secretary represented by an artfully draped shawl and timely spritzes of perfume, and a small entry room with a fancy faux door to their perpetually "under construction" main office.

Their off-the-books quasi detective agency runs on an artfully cultivated reputation for total discretion, which allows them to float into the upper reaches of society while not having to do anything actually illegal. In this debut, the two are asked by a prominent politician to investigate how his wife came to pose for a painting he knew nothing about (the subtext being a question about her marital fidelity). For a while, this allows Eduard and Borja to drive around Barcelona in a borrowed Smart car, trailing her to a succession of upscale shops, fancy cafes, and hairdressers. However, when she turns up poisoned, they suddenly realize that they've landed themselves in something rather more serious than they expected (or are really prepared to deal with).

Meanwhile, there's a nice domestic backdrop to all this, as we meet Eduard's wife and children, and Borja attempts to escape the romantic attentions of Eduard's sister-in-law. Eduard is the prototypical Watson, narrating the story in the wake of his more flamboyant and risk-taking partner, living a stable family life while Eduard lives in an apartment provided by his married girlfriend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging satire of Barcelona high society 27 Jan 2011
By Maxine Clarke VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I highly recommend this engaging, readable book. The story concerns a couple of brothers (twins), Eduard and Pep. Eduard lives a "normal" life in Barcelona with his wife and three children; Pep, who previously disappeared for a long period, has reinvented himself as "Borja", an impoverished aristocrat, and does not let Eduard tell anyone, even his wife, that the two are brothers. Borja's name is not his only invention; he also owns a business that does nothing but has an opulent front. Eduard used to work in a bank but now "works" with his brother as his partner - they do small tasks for the rich of Barcelona, such as quietly selling assets on behalf of their owners. There's a lot of back story in the first half of the book about the two brothers and their rather tragic boyhood, and about the social scene among the upper echelons of Catalan society. I loved reading all this, but if you like books that jump right into a fast-moving plot, be warned that the jewels in this novel (and there are many) are not of that variety.

The plot-proper concerns a request to the brothers by a leading politician, Lluis Font. Font has discovered a portrait of his wife in an art catalogue. He has purchased the picture concerned, but wants the brothers to find out if there are any more of them, and if so to discreetly stop them becoming public knowledge, as this would cause a scandal and upset Font's chances at party leadership. Always a month away from financial disaster and with Christmas coming up, the brothers take the commission and the associated ready cash, and begin to follow the wife.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars light and fluffy 8 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
There are two elements to this book: the gentle satire and observation of the wealthier classes in Barcelona, their activities, politics and lives; and the crime thread, when a politician's wife is found poisoned, and two unconventional twin investigators are charged with solving the crime.
I found the crime story unconvincing. There was no real detecting involved. The two amiable investigators wandered about following and talking to and, luckily bumping into significant characters. And the final denouement of the murderer was weak and improbable, as was his careless method.
The description of the atmosphere and characters surrounding the narrator's family is warm and funny, as are other elements - such as the survey that finds that out of 500 Spaniards polled, 482 have never read Don Quixote, and the same number would never admit to that in public.
The part of Barcelona society dealt with is that part living mostly "North of the Diagonal," the Catalan, more well-heeled sectors of the city. There is nothing wrong with this choice of course, but as a portrait of Barcelona - which it doesn't set out to be, I acknowledge - the book leaves undescribed much of that vibrant city and its layers and atmosphere.
In spite of the modern setting, the murder-story seemed old fashioned to me in its lack of character depth and motivation, and it relied too much, as too many crime novels do, on lucky coincidences.
The translation is a curious mix of the up-to-date and out-of date idioms. There is the odd grammatical mistake too: "had broke" instead of "had broken", for example.
"A Not So Perfect Crime" is a light read, and entertaining, but more for learning a little about the social habits of the characters than for understanding about crime and punishment in that complex city.
If you like some darkness with your crime, this book is not really for you.
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