From Publishers Weekly
Novelist and former war correspondent Pérez-Reverte (The Club Dumas; The Queen of the South) adds another taut literary thriller to his critically acclaimed list. Andres Faulques, an award-winning war photographer, is holed up in a stone tower on the Spanish coast, purging his wartime memories by painting a battle-scene mural. He has abandoned photography and is also unsuccessfully trying to banish the memory of his lover, the brilliant, bewitching Olvido, also a war photographer, who was killed as Faulques watched. One day, a strange visitor, the Croatian ex-soldier Ivo Markovic (who turns out to be the subject of one of Faulques's most famous photos), arrives with an evil agenda: he plans to kill Faulques, but first he wants to tell him how the photo altered the course of his life. (Let's say it didn't do him any favors.) Some readers may find the narrative slow—much of the novel takes place in Faulques's head, with lengthy reflections on the atrocities he has photographed, the social responsibilities of artists and photographers, and the consequences of choice and chance—though others will relish the meticulous details and dark, brooding tone. (Jan.)
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“It’s the nearest I’ve got to a personal memoir,” explains best-selling Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, who drew extensively on his experience as a war correspondent while writing The Painter of Battles. A departure from his highly regarded thrillers and historical dramas (Captain Alatriste, **** Selection, Sept/Oct 2005; Purity of Blood, ***1/2 Mar/Apr 2006), it received mixed reviews from the critics. The novel, developing slowly through lengthy philosophical discussions and flashbacks, troubled some reviewers who wanted more plot and forward momentum; however, others overlooked this deficiency and praised Pérez-Reverte’s lush prose and keen insight into human nature. “Readers who prefer action to intellectual discussion, especially when accompanied by coolly objective descriptions of the appalling things men do to each other, will prefer to leave this novel on the shelf” (Sunday Times).
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