Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Carlos Ruiz Zafon has delivered another interesting tale of 1920s Barcelona in The Angel's Game. Not quite as engaging or crisp a page-turner as his previous Shadow of the Wind, he returns to familiar haunts to unfold the story of a young writer who advances from assistant at a local newspaper to become author (writing under a pseudonym) of a series of popular penny thrillers, with the help of a wealthy and guilt-ridden patron, when he is approached by a mysterious Parisian published to write a fable (that will promote a new religion). Although it is unspoken, and I initially thought I might be reading a vampire story, the villian appears to by a fallen angel or even Lucifer himself. What is clear is that the protagonist is beset with misgivings and then fear, and then becomes something of a Typhoid Mary, whose activities and investigations inevitably lead to unfortunate events befalling those around him. His heart belongs to a young woman whose marriage (I will not reveal to whom) teras him apart. I think the strongest part of the story is his relationship with a young aspiring writer who insinuates herself into his life; his manueverings to introduce her to a potential husband are precious. Overall, though, Zafron sems to lose control of this novel. It does not hang together well. Perhaps his editor should have been tougher. Still, it is better than most of the fiction I have read recently.