Labyrinth of the Spirits (Ruiz Zafon)

The Labyrinth of the Spirits  (Cemetery of Lost Books series 4)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 2018
HarperCollins
816 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780062668691


Summary
The internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author returns to the magnificent universe he constructed in his bestselling novels The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Prisoner of Heaven in this riveting series finale—a heart-pounding thriller and nail-biting work of suspense which introduces a sexy, seductive new heroine whose investigation shines a light on the dark history of Franco’s Spain.

In this unforgettable final volume of Ruiz Zafón’s cycle of novels set in the universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, beautiful and enigmatic Alicia Gris, with the help of the Sempere family, uncovers one of the most shocking conspiracies in all Spanish history.

Nine-year-old Alicia lost her parents during the Spanish Civil War when the Nacionales (the fascists) savagely bombed Barcelona in 1938.

Twenty years later, she still carries the emotional and physical scars of that violent and terrifying time. Weary of her work as an investigator for Spain’s secret police in Madrid, a job she has held for more than a decade, the twenty-nine-year old plans to move on.

At the insistence of her boss, Leandro Montalvo, she remains to solve one last case: the mysterious disappearance of Spain’s Minister of Culture, Mauricio Valls.

With her partner, the intimidating policeman Juan Manuel Vargas, Alicia discovers a possible clue—a rare book by the author Victor Mataix hidden in Valls’ office in his Madrid mansion. Valls was the director of the notorious Montjuic Prison in Barcelona during World War II where several writers were imprisoned, including David Martín and Victor Mataix.

Traveling to Barcelona on the trail of these writers, Alicia and Vargas meet with several booksellers, including Juan Sempere, who knew her parents.

As Alicia and Vargas come closer to finding Valls, they uncover a tangled web of kidnappings and murders tied to the Franco regime, whose corruption is more widespread and horrifying than anyone imagined.

Alicia’s courageous and uncompromising search for the truth puts her life in peril. Only with the help of a circle of devoted friends will she emerge from the dark labyrinths of Barcelona and its history into the light of the future.

In this haunting new novel, Carlos Ruiz Zafon proves yet again that he is a masterful storyteller and pays homage to the world of books, to his ingenious creation of the Cemetery of Forgotten, and to that magical bridge between literature and our lives. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—September 25, 1964 
Where—Barcelona, Spain
Awards—Edebe Children's Literary Award, Best Novel, 1993
Currently—lives in Barcelona and Los Angeles, California, USA


Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a Spanish novelist. His first novel, El Príncipe de la Niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebe literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young adult novels, El Palacio de la Medianoche (1994), Las Luces de Septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999). The English version of El Príncipe de la Niebla was published in 2010.

In 2001 he published the novel La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first "adult" novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La Sombra del Viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won many international awards. His next novel, El Juego del Angel, was published in April 2008. The English edition, The Angel's Game, is translated by Lucia Graves, daughter of the poet Robert Graves. It is a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, also set in Barcelona, but during the 1920s and 1930s. It follows (and is narrated by) David Martin, a young writer who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book. Ruiz Zafon intends it to be included in a four book series along with The Shadow of the Wind. The Third book in the cycle, El Prisionero del Cielo, appeared in 2011, and was published in English in 2012 as The Prisoner of Heaven.

Ruiz Zafon's works have been published in 45 countries and have been translated into more than 50 different languages. According to these figures, Ruiz Zafon is the most successful contemporary Spanish writer (along with Javier Sierra and Juan Gomez-Jurado). Influences on Ruiz Zafon's work have included 19th century classics, crime fiction, noir authors and contemporary writers.

Apart from books, another large influence comes in the form of films and screenwriting. He says in interviews that he finds it easier to visualize scenes in his books in a cinematic way, which lends itself to the lush worlds and curious characters he creates. (From Wikipedia.)

Extras
From a 2005 Barnes & Noble interview:

• In my tender youth I worked as a musician (composer, arranger and keyboard player/synthesizer programmer, record producer, etc.) and I've also labored for seven long years in the advertising jungle as a cynical mercenary, first as a copywriter, then a creative director (whatever that means) and also producing/directing TV commercials and polluting the world with artifacts glorifying Visa, Audi, Sony, Volkswagen, American Express, and many other evil entities. In 1992, when the lease on my soul was about to expire, I quit to become what I always wanted to do, be a full-time writer. Since then, I've published five novels and also have worked occasionally as a screenwriter.

• I am a curious creature and put my finger in as many cakes as I can: history, film, technology, etc. I'm also a freak for urban history, particularly Barcelona, Paris and New York. I know more weird stuff about 19th-century Manhattan than is probably healthy.

• There are two things that I cannot live without: music and books. Caffeine isn't dignified enough to qualify.

When asked what authors most influenced his career as a writer, here is his response:

Charles Dickens and all of the 19th-century giants. (From Barnes & Noble.)



Book Reviews
(Starred review) [A] gripping and moving thriller set in Franco’s Spain…. Fans of complex and literate mysteries featuring detectives with integrity working under oppressive and corrupt regimes will be well satisfied.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review) At approximately 800 pages, this book is a commitment, but it is one well worth making. Complex characters, rich language, and intrigue make it a story to be savored. —Terry Lucas, Shelter Island P.L., NY
Library Journal


Gothic, operatic, and in many ways old-fashioned, this is a story about storytelling and survival, with the horrors of Francoist Spain present on every page. Compelling.… [T]his is for readers who savor each word and scene.
Booklist


(Starred review) Ruiz Zafón brings his sprawling Cemetery of Forgotten Books tetralogy to a close that throws in everything but the kitchen sink, but that somehow works.… A satisfying conclusion to a grand epic.
Kirkus Reviews



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