Above the Rain

Other Pr.. May 2021. 608p. tr. from Spanish by Lisa Dillman. ISBN 9781635429954. pap. $18.99. SUSPENSE
This translation of the contemplative 2017 novel by former police officer del Árbol (A Million Drops) spans decades and nations to tell an epic story about two death-haunted people trying to outrun their pasts. When Miguel and Helena meet in a nursing home in southernmost Spain—he a Spanish former bank executive in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; she a Tangiers-born Briton whose mother tried to kill her as a child before killing herself—they find connection with one another. The suicide of a mutual acquaintance leads them on a journey to Sweden. There, in a separate narrative, Yasmina, a beautiful young Moroccan woman in a “complicated situation” with a deputy police chief, is forced to help pay off her loathsome grandfather’s debt to the criminal underworld. The sprawling narrative, Vargas Llosian in scope, swells even further to include political undercurrents dating back to the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Francoism. Del Árbol writes insightfully about aging and the effects of generational trauma, and his characters are richly drawn, but too often they get bogged down by portentous dialogue.
VERDICT Readers of his previous works will welcome the author’s ambition, but fans of crime fiction may struggle with the meandering pace and abandon the story before he successfully pulls all the threads together.
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