Sunday, October 2, 2022

Even the Darkest Night by Javier Carces

First Sentence:  Melchor is still in his office, simmering on the low flame of his own impatience waiting for the night shift to end, when the phone rings.

Melchor, convicted of working for a Colombian drug cartel, when to prison as a teenager.  While there, he read “Les Misérables,” and it changed his life. After his mother was murdered, he decided to become a cop. Now the murder of a wealthy local man and his wife will change his life again.

Was Cercas trying to write a philosophical, literary novel, or a police procedural?  If the former, the effect was pretentious and overblown.  If the latter, the story was filled with every cliché one could imagine and those, too, felt exaggerated and overused.    I am normally not one to skim a book, but I did this one.  

EVEN THE DARKEST NIGHT contains too much personal history, unnecessary descriptions of people and their environment, and overall exposition.  Peel that away and there are about 100 pages of a good story.  Sadly, I found myself not really caring.  However, for a really good police procedural/mystery set in Spain, I recommend “Water Blue Eyes” by Domingo Villar. 

EVEN THE DARKEST NIGHT (PolProd-Melchor-Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain-Contemp)
Javier Cercas – 1st in series
Knopf, Jun 2022, 353 pages
Rating: Okay/C

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