This is the kind of mystery I like: it starts in a bookstore and it ends in a library… Well, not quite literally but almost. This is the third in a series of books called “El cementario de los libros olvidados” (The cemetery of forgotten books). The author states that the three books in the series share characters and plot elements but that each book is self-contained. Therefore, they can be read in any order and form a labyrinth of stories that can be accessed though different doors and pathways that can all take the reader to the heart of the story. Well… that’s nice theoritically. I look forward to reading the others books in the series (La sombra del viento, El juego del ángel) and seeing where the links are and whether knowledge of the other books does change my perception of this one.
At the center of El prisionero del cielo is the story of Fermín Romero de Torres who wants to marry the beautiful Bernarda but is afraid he cannot because he does not have legal existence. Most of the book is devoted to telling the story of how he came to be declared dead and of how his life is closely entwined with the life of his best friend Daniel. All this is set in mid-20th century Spain, during World War II and the Franco dictatorship. In the end, Daniel and some associates do succeed in getting some legal papers so Fermín can get married and Daniel comes to terms with the murder of his mother that occurred when he was a small child.
Zafón, Carlos Ruiz. El prisionero del cielo. Vintage Español, Nueva York, 2011.