Breathing Through the Wound

Other Pr. Jul. 2020. 688p. ISBN 9781590518434. pap. $19.99. SUSPENSE
Grief, remorse, and guilt bind characters together in this sprawling third novel from Spanish cop-turned-author del Árbol (A Million Drops). It’s been 14 years since a car accident claimed the lives of Eduardo Quintana’s wife and daughter, and the former painter still drinks himself into oblivion, getting by on ineffectual therapy and occasional commissions from a sympathetic gallery owner. She leads him to an unusual request from Gloria A. Tagger, a world-renowned violinist: to paint a portrait of the man who killed her son in a drunk-driving accident. That man, Arthur Fernandez, has just been released from prison and is reclaiming his position in the firm he still controls. At 688 sometimes ponderous pages, del Árbol’s novel spends ample time delving into the tortured backstories of his three protagonists while introducing several important secondary characters, which includes a 21-year-old male prostitute calling himself Mr. Who and Fernandez’s loyal cellmate Ibrahim. Eduardo’s attempt to capture the essence of a murderer sends him into the Madrid underwold, where he begins to realize that his and his patron’s tragedies are more connected than he thought.
VERDICT As in A Million Drops, del Árbol proves he’s adept at creating richly drawn characters and weaving their disparate stories, building to a shattering, violent climax.

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