Title – All This I Will Give To You
Author – Dolores Redondo (translated by Michael Meigs)
Published – September 2018
Genre – Crime fiction
This has to be one of my favourite reads of the year so it’s quite remiss of me to have left it so long between reading and reviewing (9 months) but the fact that I can still remember it well enough to review says something about the quality of the book.
The initial premise of the story is one that’s not completely unfamiliar – novelist Manuel Ortigosa learns that his husband, Álvaro, has been killed in a car crash and then discovers that he didn’t know the man he married at all. So far, so similar to other books – but this has lots of very important differences. The main couple being gay is an obvious one, although it’s just a very matter of fact situation rather than feeling as if it’s for effect, the secrets that Álvaro has hidden from his partner are on a surprising scale and the reason for the deception is unusual.
When a shell-shocked Manuel attends his husband’s funeral he begins to understand the scale of the deception that he’s been subject to. Álvaro’s death is seemingly the result of a car accident and it’s clear that there is more to the death than meets the eye. Supported by two unusual allies – a retired policeman and an old friend of Álvaro’s, Manuel embarks on a difficult journey to uncover the truth, whatever it may cost him.
While this is crime fiction/thriller it’s a pretty long book (at almost 500 pages) and the story develops slowly, the lives of Manuel and his husband and the way Manuel deals with his grief are really important, so if you’re after a fast-paced thriller then this might not be for you. This really is at the ‘literary’ end of the genre, it’s beautifully written (and translated), compellingly evocative, and emotionally resonant. The story of the relationship between the two men is just as important as the investigation into Álvaro’s death. I’ve not read many books set in Spain and the author also does a great job of painting a vivid picture of the locations, creating a real sense of place and culture. The characters are all deftly drawn – recognisable, realistic and flawed, and the relationships are at the heart of the story.
Definitely one of the best books I read in 2019.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.