Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Z

A big THANK YOU to Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise for sponsoring The Alphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. This has been a fun 26-week journey of murder and mayhem--taking us from A...all the way to that difficult ending letter Z! It's been really interesting to see how each of the participants have used the week's letter to introduce us to various authors and works.

And now, without further ado, to the grand finale: Z is for
Zafón. Carlos Ruiz Zafón--author of The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel's Game, The Prince of Mist, and most recently The Midnight Palace. In 2001 he published The Shadow of the Wind which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, it has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards. Zafón's works have been published in more than 40 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages.

I have read The Shadow of the Wind (long before I began blogging) and just this past week I finished The Angel's Game. Here is my take on
Zafón's second adult novel:
Let me just start by saying that I loved Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind. That was a breath-taking novel--exquisitely written and a truly wonderful book. The Angel's Game--not so much. After enjoying Shadow so much, I had high hopes for The Angel's Game. It starts out strong. Again, the writing is good and the plot promises to be interesting. But half-way in I just lost interest. I was suddenly noticing cliches (everywhere) and the plot made no sense to me. And everything was so gloomy and ultra-Gothic. And the dead bodies piling up to be a bit much. I kept hoping that Zafón would start bringing it all together and it would start making sense...and when I closed the book I was still hoping.

The novel is about David Martin, a blood and thunder writer who is struggling to make ends meet. He's living in an old, run-down mansion in the heart of Barcelona furiously trying to keep up the 6.66 pages per day that he must write to meet his contract. Then one night he meets a mysterious publisher who offers him a book deal he can't refuse. But the deeper he becomes involved with the publisher, the more things go wrong in his private life--and the more people he knows wind up dead. He begins to wonder at the connection between the book he's working on and the shadows that seem to haunt him wherever he goes. And he begins to wonder what secrets the publisher is keeping from him.

If there were any real character resolution at the end of this story, that would be a real plus. But there's not. The wrap-up to the mysterious circumstances and the final chapter just left me flat. I'm not exactly sure what
Zafón intended his readers to feel at the end of the novel, but I'm quite sure that I didn't. What I did feel was confused and let-down. The writing and the method in this novel would make a whole lot more sense to me if I found out it had actually been written before Shadow of the Wind and was Zafón's first effort. The best I can say for the book is Zafón again does a good job evoking the time period and atmosphere of Barcelona. I admire that part of his writing very much. Two stars.

For those who would like to give
Zafón a try, I strongly suggest that you go with The Shadow of the Wind.


Anonymous said...

Bev - I'm so sorry you were disappointed in The Angel's Game. I've had that happen, too, where I devoured an author's first novel, only to be truly disappointed in her or his second effort. Thanks for your insights and this was a fine choice for "Z."

Marce said...

I want to try him and think I have Shadow of the wind.

My choice would be Vincent Zandri, great thriller author.

Bill Selnes said...

I have not read Zafon. It is striking to have such strong different opinions between two books by the same author. Have you developed any theories on why the second was not as well written?

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I'm glad you wrote about The Angel's Game because I started it, lost interest and returned it to the library. I wondered if I should have persevered with it - now I see I was right.

It's a shame because I really liked The Shadow of the Wind.

Kerrie said...

Thank you for this one Bev and for supporting the CFA throughout. There are certainly some interesting books highlighted

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks Bev - I have not read this author but shall certainly try 'Shadow of the Wind' first!

Yvette said...

Bev, normally we agree on books, but...

I did try reading Zafon's SHADOW OF THE WIND when it first appeared since all my friends were reading it and loving it.

I did try.

But the Spanish to English translation just did not work for me. Spanish is such an idiomatic sort of language that when translated literally, it sounds overwrought and clunky. What can I say? I can't read it in Spanish because though I am basically fluent, I haven't read any Spanish is years and years.

But I know what the cadence of it sounds like. I know when it's being translated well and when it isn't.

Needless to say I haven't read any other books by Zafon.

I'm making a sad face now. :)