Although very loosely taking its lead from crime fiction, this book is more a pastoral hymn to the interconnectedness of things. As outcast villager Marcelino goes into hiding, we move through a fully realised Spanish countryside, created through myth, fable and rural rhythms, and the intermingling of past and present. This is a mindful reading experience, poetic and lyrical: each word combination is to be savoured.
Marcelino woke with a start and grabbed the pistol. He surveyed his surroundings. In the same instant, he and the intruder spotted each other. A little fox with a bushy golden tail was holding his ground on the bank, barely two yards away. Marcelino smiled and put the pistol away. The fox carried on drinking. A patch of milky moonlit sky was just visible between the trees, above the stream. An owl hooted. His father hated owls, because people said that when someone was about to die an owl would hoot outside their house at night. But his mother explained to him that the bird was playing a flute to guide spirits in the dark, and Marcelino liked that.