Madrid, on a cold January morning. I come out of my hotel, superbly located in the fashionable Salamanca quarter. I cross the street and enter the coffee shop. Sitting at table in a corner I see my friend Bea and her husband, Arturo Fuentes the writer, whom I’m meeting today for the first time even if I’m already his reader and follower on Facebook.
An unexpected writer
Bea and I have been friends for years. We met professionally but now really enjoy being together, talking and sharing our ideas. Some two years ago she confided in me that her husband had begun writing after his pre retirement; that’s how I came across Arturo’s first book that I mentioned in my post “Back to the mysteries of Scotland”. I was curious and bought the book on Amazon and found it simply unputdownable. It’s a thriller set in the Scottish Highlands, mixing suspense with the supernatural. I was amazed at Arturo’s mastery of the plot and at the time wrote to him saying I was looking forward to reading the second book of the series.
As soon as Bea mentioned the second book was on Amazon I bought it but could not begin it immediately as I was reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography at the time. I put Arturo’s book by my bed, though, and longingly looked at it as I knew it would certainly be a very interesting read.
Meanwhile I had a business trip to Madrid and told Bea it might be a good opportunity for us to get together and for me to finally meet Arturo, and we agreed to have breakfast together.
Bea and I are always happy to see each other and with Arturo it seemed we had known each other for a long time. After all, I read his books and he reads the stories on my blog, so somehow we do know each other. Still, it was good to be there, face to face, and soon the three of us – as Bea is enthusiastic about her husband’s work and not only follows my blog but is looking forward to reading my book – were enthusiastically discussing books and stories and publishing; and, of course, talking about Arturo’s new book “Tambien los demonios miran al pasado” (in English, literally “Even demons look back to the past”). He mentioned he had chosen to self-publish on Amazon – something I intend to do myself – which was not the case of his first book and he’s really happy with the result. His first book’s publishing house was a small one but even so he has been on several TV interviews and has won a few literary prizes. He has also been recommended by several Spanish book blogs, being on his way to become a famous author; in addition there a possibility of a TV series. I told him he must have his book translated into English as this would of course hugely enlarge the scope of his readers and he is considering it.
Arturo also mentioned he is already writing his third book and doing research for others, and I suggested he and Bea come over to stay at my beach apartment near Sintra. Sintra is a lovely small town on a mountain 30 kilometres from Lisbon and not only it has a mysterious aura – no doubt enhanced by the ever present mist that makes for an eerie atmosphere– but it is said to be a very ancient and mystical place; locals say even today witches get together in its forests, where the remains of dead animals and suspicious objects speak of strange rituals performed there…and I believe there must be many legends related to Sintra that might serve as inspiration for one of Arturo’s stories.
The second adventure
Back home I finally opened his second book and soon I was engrossed in the newest adventure of James Allen, a history teacher turned investigator. In the first book he teams up with Patricia Banner, a young Scottish police officer and Collins, a former hacker who has mended his ways and now helps the police. From the beginning they work together to solve the mystery around some very odd murder cases in a Highland marshy area. But this book is quite different from the first; the story begins in Tuscany, Italy, where James Allen currently lives with his fiancée, Victoria, a beautiful woman he has met and fallen in love with during his first adventure. Suddenly the theft of an old artefact unleashes a series of events that will take us from Italy to Buenos Aires and to a mysterious island in Greece; we will time travel to the 16th century and the Amazon rainforest and walk with the Spanish conquerors as they move into the deep jungle and acquaint themselves with Indian old myths and legends, some of them utterly terrifying like that of the Yamapuma, a black demon that kills its victims by chopping off the front part of their heads and leaves them without a trace of blood on their bodies. This old curse will travel across the world to an island in Greece where ancient rituals are revived and the population lives in a state of terror not daring to tell anyone about their terrible secret.
When James and Victoria decide to get married on the island of Gavdos – where she has a family home – they invite their Scottish friends to come over for the celebration. Patricia and Collins get together with Chief Inspector Alex Scot, his wife and two children to travel to the island hoping for a nice wedding and a few relaxing days in the sun. However, as a terrible storm hits the island things go horribly wrong. It seems as if ancient dark forces are gathering. People are disappearing and old rites are being revived. A monster is on the loose and James and his friends will have to fight for their lives as they try to put an end to the old curse that hovers above the island.
Bea and Arturo told me some of his readers did not enjoy this book as much as the first one. I, on the contrary, think this book is even better than the first. Maybe it’s not as easy to read but I find it superbly written. Moreover, it is not a mere copy of the first, changing only a few items such as the legend and location and little more. Even if it is the second adventure of a group of people we already know, the pace of the story is totally different, as is the way it unfolds. In this book James Allen does part of the investigation by himself, just because circumstances justify it. As for the outcome, I’m afraid to say there is no happy ending. This book is definitely darker. With all the rain and dark skies of the storm Arturo makes a Greek island seem even creepier than the Scottish marshes. He actually does it, turning the whole story in something scarier, more terrible. So maybe it’s not an easy or conventional story but the plot is woven in such a way that you won’t put down the book unless you really have to! I found myself reading unto the late hours of the night because I simply had to know what happened next.
In the end, with this new book, Arturo not only manages to keep up to the – already high – expectations he had created with his first, but he surprises us as well, by giving us the continuation of James’s adventures in a completely different story, with an unexpected climax that leaves us truly shaken. But then, real life is not about happy endings, and neither is this book.
I’m sorry this book is not published in English yet for I would strongly recommend it to you. But I promise you this: I’m positive that, sooner or later, Arturo’s books will be found in English. And when they do I will let you know so that you may all enjoy them.
To Arturo, I say, please go on writing. You have an amazing imagination. How you could describe the island of Gavdos in such detail – we feel transported there – without ever having been there I cannot tell. But then, that is the stuff of a great writer, to make his readers feel real emotions and see real places. Thank you so much for great reading moments, and please don’t take too long to write the next adventure as your fans – myself included – can barely wait.