A Shortcut to Paradise is a hysterically funny murder mystery that also serves as an inviting travelogue to hip and fun Barcelona. Written by Teresa Solana and translated by Peter Bush, the novel is the second in Solana’s series starring non-identical twins Eduard and Borja Martinez. Eduard is a family man, devoted to wife and kids, while Borja juggles two girlfriends and is intent on living the life of the rich — as he says, “Life is only easy for the rich“.
Eduard works to support his family and Borja works to support his image as a financially-ruined but genetically impeccable aristocrat. More through luck and a strange combination of pride (unfounded belief they can solve any puzzle) and humility (they are willing to grovel for information as needed), the twins do solve murder mysteries, unfolding Catalan history, culture, and idiosyncracies along the way.
In A Shortcut to Paradise, a bestselling writer of purple prose has been murdered and the entirety of the Catalan literary world — from critics to agents to novelists to poets — are possible perpetrators. When the police nab the hapless but egocentric Amadeu Cabestany (such a great writer that he is unintelligible on paper), Cabestany’s agent calls the twins in to find the real murderer. There the fun begins. What a strange coincidence that a translator of literary texts — the subject of a recent posting of mine, in which I express my regard for all the wonderful translators who labor in obscurity — will turn out to play such a crucial role in revealing the truth behind purple prose lady’s murder. But it will be the twins themselves who point the finger at the perpetrator and then proceed to recast the murdered writer from bestselling sellout to a writer of “transcendental ontic reflection”, worthy of entering “the literary canon alongside the great masters…” A final funny twist in a novel of many wonderful and laugh-inducing contortions.
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