All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Angel's Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a mysterious, macabre, and Poe-like page-turner. I'd previously read The Shadow of the Wind, and knew Zafon is a good storyteller. The Angel's Game is darker and more gruesome than Shadow, although some of the same themes surface--libraries and booksellers and mysterious abandoned mansions.

Our hero is David Martin, who was abandoned by his mother and raised by his father. He was orphaned at a young age, and due to a wealthy sponsor and a crusty but caring editor, Martin became a popular writer of sensationalist serials. As the sordid association with a team of greedy publishers becomes too much for Martin to bear, a French publisher named Andreas Corelli makes Martin an offer he can't refuse. Not that he doesn't try. Factor in the daughter of his sponsor's chauffeur and a saucy teenaged would-be writer/housekeeper/roommate, and you very nearly have the complete cast of characters.

The book's appeal is the story. It's not that we care very much for Martin or any of the other characters (the bookstore owner and the crusty editor are likeable enough, but our exposure to them is so infrequent that any connection is too light to sustain any particular interest in their fates), it's that we want to solve the mystery. Is Corelli real? Is he "the undead"? Is he a puppet? Is he a figment of Martin's imagination? Are the gruesome murders that are interspersed throughout the book by the hand of Martin, as the police suspect? Is Martin simply insane?

The reader shouldn't be overly hopeful that all of these questions are answered by the book's end. I won't spoil the ending, except to say that you are left with the impression that Martin will have some peace.

Zafon's novels are translated from Spanish. The Angel's Game was published by Doubleday in 2009. Zafon's website can be found at Random House.

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