It's been quite the trial over the last few months, walking past piles of Dolores Redondo's second Baztan trilogy novel, Legado en Los Huesos, knowing that I have to wait for the English translation.
The Legacy of the Bones, the follow up to last year's The Invisible Guardian (review), was worth the wait. This second installment of Basque mysticism lives up to the promise of the first novel. At the heart of the novel is Pamplona detective Amaia Salazar, who once again is sent back to her home town of Elizondo where she investigates a series of bizarre suicides as well as attacks on a village church.
The suicides each come with the moniker 'Tarttalo' daubed at the scene, plunging Salazar back first into the world of Basque mythology and then to her own troubled past in the town. Salazar, new to maternity following the recent birth of her son, becomes emotionally and physically embroiled in the mystery of the strange suicides, to the risk of herself and those around her.
Salazar herself is an arresting character - strong, determined and smart, but also with a stubbornness that carries a self-destructive streak. She is clearly a brilliant detective, revered by many of her colleagues, but also a difficult personality, a woman who carries her problems around with her and sometimes unloads them indiscriminately, often at those who love her best, including her patient husband James.
In The Legacy of the Bones a professional challenge becomes a huge personal burden, pushing her to physical and mental limits. It's a fascinating study of a driven woman, and one that carries the novel. But if Salazar is the star, then the Navarran/Basque location is its soul. All the best crime fiction has a strong sense of place, but these Baztan books positively drip with atmosphere. You can feel the rain drops on the back of your neck, sense the fog seeping in under the door. Filming is underway of The Invisible Guardian and with the state of my Spanish (muy mal) and the speed of local speakers (rapido) I'll be happy to see the films just for the scenery.
The Legacy of the Bones is a fast-paced, atmospheric crime novel that gets under the skin of the read just as effectively as it does its setting. I look forward with impatience to the third and final installment of this excellent trilogy.