I must admit that I have acquired certain customs over the years. For example, not missing the last Almodóvar movie, listening to Alaska’s latest album, doing it with whoever is making it, or reading the latest writings of Marías or Vila Matas… That’s what happened to me in Elia Barceló’s novels. long time. one time. The published novel is the novel I’ve read. He makes me enjoy his stories and he has a pleasant time that makes me a little bit happier.
18 long chapters and divided into sequences dealing with different themes of the characters, dominated by linear structure, two short flashbacks and an afterword with the addition of some texts and letters in first person, Elia Barceló’s Death in Santa Rita (Roca, 2022) us 400 With nearly 40 people for over . for gynecological diseases.
I think it is a novel designed to salute the Agatha Christie stories that I unknowingly follow, and I am convinced of this now. A more or less distant house with different people and at least one murder needs to be explored by releasing the doses of suspense scattered on the criminal’s pages. But when it comes to Death in Santa Rita, that’s not the most important thing (hence there are a few dead and late ones), but the characters, especially Sofía, the creator of all that living space, the noristable owner of the place, and the feudal lady. in a harmonious Mediterranean landscape that gives them their reason for being.
Spring of 2017. Thanks to the third-person narration, we get to know the epicenter of the story, Huerto de Santa Rita, located near Benalfaro, near Elche and Alicante. We are in the Mediterranean, but in ours, when we know: “Those who do not have the Mediterranean in their blood think that there is spring. […] This is not so. There is winter” (p.11). Throughout the novel, the landscape is recreated with its plants and flowers, its scents and above all its light. Even the subtitles of the episodes make them stand out (“The Bougainvillea Rumor”; “Silhouette of Palm Trees”…). This environment is enriched with daily life transmitted through cooking: Boiled Valencian meat, fried chicken with ratatouille, Murcian salad, fatty toast, baby squid in black sauce, liver with onions and roasted potatoes, etc.
And yes, there is a crime. And before it, a full rundown of mystery and possible suspense in each of the characters who are not immune from possible misery, pointing to each of them’s recent or distant past.
Of course, there is also a certain taste for eccentricity, luxury or snobbery (the property itself, and above all Sofía and its history); a certain critical stance towards men: “Why is selfishness seen only in men?” (p.62); social criticism of one’s own identity (p.344) or euthanasia (p.352). And also meta-literary reflections, such as affirmations that men write autofiction and women write fiction (p. 50); that you should start with the title (p. 61) and continue as close to the end as possible. In fact, Sofia is a famous androgynous writer who writes under two pseudonyms named Sophia Walker for detective novels; and Lily Van Lest for romance novels. A kind of visible light complementarity of the transcripts of life.
And why should you read this novel? Because paradoxically, it shows how difficult it is to write easily, and with its social criticism, it performs a simple, linear, human, snobbish, fictional, non-contemporary reading; but with a dose of mystery, a dose of mystery, that shows us some beings who want and can (happily) live peacefully in Santa Rita, I hope it comes, projected towards continuity in other pages. .