NEVER SHAKE HANDS WITH A LEFT-HANDED GUNMAN by Benjamín Prado

NEVER SHAKE HANDS WITH A LEFT-HANDED GUNMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Four ways of looking at a vanished Barcelonan, courtesy of this young Spanish writer’s first US publication. One day Israel Lacasa was there, the next morning he wasn’t, says his dim-witted but faithful companion Gaizka Uriarte. There were hints of trouble beforehand, of course—the time Israel ran afoul of the Coast Guard for putting his new boat in the water before filling out the paperwork, the time somebody painted a big white X on his front door while his dogs (jointly named Tommy Gun) barked helplessly inside—in fact, Israel’s checkered career was nothing but one hint of trouble after another. But which of his petty skullduggeries—working on a suspicious-sounding offshore project sinking cars in the sea, crossing swords with the Coast Guard’s Capt. Urrutia (if that’s really his name), stealing his buddy Blueberry’s girlfriend Sara for the second time—got him killed, or is he really dead at all? Americans familiar with the conventions of recent detective fiction in Spanish will know that the inquiry into Israel’s fate is really an inquest into his identity, conducted in this case through successive narratives by Gaizka, Sara, and Blueberry, who don’t seem to agree about very much except rock music, anomie, and the charismatic power of Israel, from whom they’ve all, from ex-boxer Gaizka to bleeding-heart Sara, picked up the habit of speaking almost exclusively in demotic—and wannabe demotic—quotations (“I’ll see it when I believe it,” Israel oracularly tells his stooge Gaizka, who dutifully weighs in with contenders like “If ducks weren’t so fast then anyone could be a good hunter”). Old hands will also know better than to assume that this mÇlange of macho posturing and postmodern attitudinizing, capped by a climactic appearance by one Benjam°n Prado, will lead to any conclusive information about the whereabouts of Israel Lacasa. To quote Prado at his most provoking: “Like they say in the movies, this is the real world.”

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20084-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998