The Prisoner of Heaven

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I loved this story of 1950's Barcelona, and the young bookseller trying to make sense of his mother’s early death during the Spanish Civil War. But then again, I’m a sucker for bookshops, books, intrigue and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.


A professional bookseller has few opportunities to acquire the fine art of following a suspect on the field without being spotted. Unless a substantial number of his customers are prominent defaulters, such opportunities are only granted to him vicariously by the collection of crime stories and penny dreadfuls on his bookshelves. Clothes maketh not the man, but crime, or its presumption, maketh the amateur sleuth.

While I followed the stranger towards the Ramblas, I recalled the essentials, beginning by leaving a good fifty metres between us, camouflaging myself behind someone larger and always having a quick hideaway ready – a doorway or a shop – in case the subject I was tailing should stop and turn around without warning. When he reached the Ramblas, the stranger crossed over to the central boulevard and began to walk down towards the port. The boulevard was festooned with traditional Christmas decorations and more than one shop had decked its window with lights, stars and angels announcing seasonal bonanza. If the regime’s radio said better times were ahead, it must be true.
Translated by Lucia Graves


The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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