Blood of the Angels by Eugenio Fuentes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"[...] if something couldn't be solved with thoughts and words, then it couldn't be solved with a gun."
Eugenio Fuentes' Blood of the Angels (2001) is a good read: a solid, quiet, slow-moving psychological crime novel. It features mostly believable characters with rather plausible motives, and occasionally offers neat pearls of wisdom like the sentence quoted above. I quite like the book, for several reasons: first, while it is indeed a crime novel, the crime is not in the forefront of the plot: it just serves as a sort of background for a readable book about people; I got quite interested in learning more about them.
Further, even if - as I understand - the novel is an entry in Mr. Fuentes' series that features private investigator Ricardo Cupido, he is by no means the main character in the plot: the reader spends much more time with other characters. In general, I do not like series novels because of their maddening repetitiveness about the main character: if I have to read the twenty-third novel featuring Kinsey Millhone, or the thirtieth one with Alex Delaware, I would like these novels to focus completely on other characters and omit the same old same old Millhone/Delaware stuff. So - unless another book in the series proves me wrong - I will continue reading Ricardo Cupido stories because I hope they are not really about him at all.
Julián Monasterio's wife left him, his mother has just died, and his six-year-old daughter whom he raises alone seems to be unable to cope with the adversity. Among the objects that Julián's mother left is a pistol that once belonged to his father. Instead of taking it to the police or hammering it to render it useless, Julián leaves it in his bank safe, which he forgets to lock securely. It is not difficult to guess that the stolen gun is used to cause another human tragedy. The murder happens in a school and the teachers and staff are under police investigation. Julián hires Mr. Cupido to find the gun and the murderer.
Although a good read, the novel is hardly a great one. Some characterizations are close to caricatures; also, I have been bothered by a feel of unsophisticated innocence permeating the text: for instance, it is hard to believe that a middle-aged educated man would be so naive as to be surprised that people change, that they become different people over time, and that he would ask "[...] how was it possible for such unspoken hostility to come about between a man and a woman who fifteen years ago had loved and desired and admired each other [...]". Other readers may find the naiveté charming and sweet, so I recommend the book with minor reservations.
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