fifty.

the Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1996)
“Films are for everyone, collective, generous, with children cheering when the cavalry arrives. And they’re even better on TV: two can watch and comment. But your books are selfish. Solitary. Some of them can’t even be read, they fall to bits if you open them. A person who’s interested only in books doesn’t need other people, and that frightens me” 
 Corso is an agent who finds rare books for others and he isn’t afraid to cross the line in order to satisfy his customers. But this time he has two hard cases; he has to find out if a piece of a manuscript is a part of the original The Three Musketeers by Dumas and find the original occult book called The Book of Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows. But the cases are more complicated, mainly because he is nearly killed by a man who looks like the crook in the Three Musketeers. And then there is the young girl who protects him and says she is the devil. Are the two cases connected?
This book had all the ingredients to be a book after my tastes. But having all the correct ingredients is useless when you cannot follow the recipe. My biggest beefs are the language and the horrible editing. It might have been the cheap Kindle version, but almost all sentences lacked punctuation and even some words seemed to be missing. And although it has a great, yet very predictable, plot, the writing style ruined it. How can you make something exciting so boring?
I’m surprised that it has survived four editions of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but I suspect it is only because it mentions other books and authors in such academic ways. If you plan to read the Three Musketeers you definitely need to do that before reading this one as it is full of spoilers. 
One good thing: Some noteworthy quotes about books and reading. And a lot of other people seem to love it, but it wasn’t for me.   

ps: the film version is called the Ninth Gate and is starring Johnny Depp and I have higher hopes for it than the book.

five.


Pandora in the Congo by Albert Sánchez Piñol (2005)


“This story began with three funerals and ended with one broken heart.”

Thomas Thomson is a young man hired to write the story of a man jailed for murdering two Brits in the Congo. The tale the prisoner, Garvey, tells is fantastic and Thomas has no problems believing every word of the story and the man’s innocence. Garvey explains how he happened to go to the Congo with the two sons of aristocrats, the way they treated their bearers and captured new ones, how they found the mine and how one day a tall weird white man came from the depths of the mine and then trouble began.

“My grandfather knew what he was talking about. The white men always do the same thing. First, missionaries arrive and threaten hell. Then, the merchants come and steal everything. Then, the soldiers. They’re all bad, but the new arrivals are always worse than the ones before them. First came Mr Tecton, who wanted us to believe in his God. Today the merchants appeared. And soon the soldiers will come up. I don’t want to be here when they arrive.”

The link between the prequel Cold Skin must be humanoid monsters living in remote parts of our world, but there is no direct link between the books, they are set in different places and even time.

It took a lot longer to get in to this book because it focuses a lot more on the writer and his present-time and not just on the story. I didn’t realise the importance of this before the very end, which is why this book is so brilliant. It is less thrilling, but the story is definitely much better than the prequel. I’m really looking forward to the last book in the trilogy which hasn’t been published yet.

four.

Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol (2002)


“We are never far from those we hate. For this very reason, we shall never be truly close to those we love. An appalling fact, I knew it well enough when I embarked. But some truths deserve our attention; others are best left alone”

A young man has taken up a post as the sole weather observer on a remote island close to Antarctica. When the ship arrives on the island, they can’t find the man’s predecessor, but find a lunatic man, Gruner, in the light house, the other building on the small island. The young man is looking forward to a year in solitude. But then the night falls on the first day and the reptile-like humanoid monsters arrive from the sea and the survival instinct takes over.

The young nameless man (I can’t decide if he is a hero or not) quickly realises that he won’t survive outside the lighthouse, and after a lot of struggle, Gruner finally lets him in and they coexist with little talk and the nightly struggle against the monsters. Gruner also holds one female monster as a slave, even having sex with it. The monsters are erratic in their attacks, but they seem to multiply in numbers each night.

The story is very gloomy, the only hope they have is to survive until the boat returns in a year, but they are running out of bullets and the monsters are getting cleverer and cleverer. And the men are getting more insane by the day.

But the book is really exciting, I read the 230 pages in a few hours because there is no boring moment in the book and I just had to know if they survived. I have already started on the sequel, Pandora in the Congo, and is really curious about what the link between the books is.

“February 25
They have finally appeared, and in great numbers. Our daily ration of ammunition is six bullets and we were forced to fire eight.”