A raucous debut by Spanish author Vallvey, with Gypsies, jewel thieves, morticians, and sibling rivalry (female variant) all mixed into one palette like so many shades of lurid crimson.
A house of nine women and no men is going to be full of stories just about anywhere—but in Spain it will be a virtual Decameron. Perhaps that is why narrator Candela works at a morgue, where she is able to talk to her clients without being interrupted. Candela’s younger sister Gador has recently moved back home after discovering a cache of videotapes on which her husband Victor filmed himself committing serial adultery with a wide assortment of near-strangers. She and Candela share a room. Just down the hall are their sisters Carmina, Paula, Bely, and Brandy, their widowed Mama, and their Grandma and Aunt Mary. Compared to such a domestic hothouse, the morgue is an oasis of calm—until the arrival of Joaquin, the Gypsy patriarch who arrives for burial in a top hat and cane. Inside the cane (which rigor mortis has permanently attached to Joaquin’s right hand) Candela discovers a pile of diamonds and deftly pockets them. Later, she falls in love with Amador, Joaquin’s son, who apparently knew nothing of the cane’s contents. Did anyone, other than Joaquin himself? Imagine living in a madhouse where you have a fortune tucked away in some dresser drawer. Then ask yourself which is the better risk: sell the stolen goods that will purchase your freedom but might bring a long stint in jail; or stay cooped up with eight other neurotics like yourself. Don’t take too long answering that one.
Funny, fresh, and briskly written: a good start by a quick study.