Thursday, August 09, 2018

Review: The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other stories by Teresa Solana tr. Peter Bush

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and other stories by Teresa Solana translated by Peter Bush, August 2018, 210 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1912242079

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

I’d never been held up at gun-point before or seen anyone die (in real-life, that is), let alone like that. Bang-bang, a couple of shots and you’re on your way to the other side. You’ll soon see when I put the photos on Instagram …

THE FIRST PREHISTORIC SERIAL KILLER is a collection of short stories by Barcelona-born novelist and translator Teresa Solana. It’s a lively, bizarre, witty, cruel, crude and sometimes picaresque collection. The first five tales start with the story that gives the collection its name: three dead Neanderthals found with their heads bashed in with a rock, one after the other, prompt the weakling of the tribe to find out how they died (after all he has to keep his place in the group somehow). Be prepared for an anachronistic tale with a sharp eye for social status and a sly humour. The following four stories cover motifs such as domestic murder and a solution to corpse disposal, death and satire in the art world, ghosts in a quandary – and vampires in the era of sunblock. The remaining stories in the collection make up the prize-winning “Connections”; a kaleidoscopic collection of eight crime stories involving characters and events in and around Barcelona, all touched by a shooting in a Barcelona pharmacy.

This was my first foray into crime fiction in short story form and I was worried that I would grow tired of what I thought could become a predictable format. But Solana is not predictable and the outcome was that I enjoyed these stories hugely. Translated by Teresa Solana’s husband Peter Bush, this translation must be one of the closest matches to the writer’s voice and intentions possible. Solana’s earthy, dark wit; her ability to speak through varied characters; her satirical eye for the layers and workings of Barcelona society (which speak to everyone everywhere) and her finely crafted invention that knits together the stories in “Connections” mean that I shall definitely be on the hunt for a full length Teresa Solana novel.

Very highly recommended – for those with a taste for murder, the surreal, and possibly – the stories of Saki.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

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