Dolores Rodondo is a Spanish writer whom I have just discovered. Her stand alone novel, All This I Give To You, really hit my hot button, so I have embarked on her trilogy set in the Basque area, the Baztán, which is a municipality of the Chartered Community of Navarre, northern Spain. It is located 58 km from Pamplona, which is the capital of Navarre. It is the largest municipality in Navarre, with around 376.8 km² and just over 8,000 inhabitants.
This first in the series, The Invisible Guardian, is translated by Isabelle Kaufeler. How can a reader of a translated work tell if it is a good translation? IDK. I guess if it feels authentic, not stilted, uses words in common usage, not odd ones obviously looked up in a dictionary, traditional sentence structure of the targeted language. I went to Google to see if I could find out anything about what defines good translations, and the ultimate upshot seems to be “Ummm, I dunno.” Well, that was helpful.
It is a police procedural starring (yea!) a female detective, married to a famous sculptor. Official plot: “The naked body of a teenage girl is found on the banks of the River Baztán. Less than 24 hours after this discovery, a link is made to the murder of another girl the month before. Is this the work of a ritualistic killer or of the Invisible Guardian, the Basajaun, a creature of Basque mythology?
30-year-old Inspector Amaia Salazar heads an investigation which will take her back to Elizondo, the village in the heart of Basque country where she was born, and to which she had hoped never to return. A place of mists, rain and forests. A place of unresolved conflicts, of a ark secret that scarred her childhood and which will come back to torment her.
Torn between the rational, procedural part of her job and local myths and superstitions, Amaia Salazar has to fight off the demons of her past in order to confront the reality of a serial killer at loose in a region steeped in the history of the Spanish Inquisition.”
There is more than a smidgen of the paranormal here, couched in the telling of local myths and legends. There is also a lot of whining about trying to have a baby. There are also lots of hints of an abusive childhood at the hands of her mother, so bad that she eventually had to go live with her aunt.
It is kind of soap opera meets Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect. Yeah, I liked it. A lot. On to the second in the series.