CITY OF GOOD DEATH by Chris Lloyd
First of all, thanks to reader Ami V. for recommending CITY OF GOOD DEATH. It has all the elements of a great international mystery: evocative location, a crime that could only happen there, a main character to root for, and enough twists and turns to keep those pages
turning. Sprinkle in a relatively obscure language—Catalan—and I’m hooked.
Elisenda Domènech heads up the Serious Crimes Unit of the Mossos D’Esquadra in Girona, Catalonia. For those who aren’t familiar with Catalonia, it is a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Spain where Barcelona is located. In 2017, the regional parliament held an independence referendum and Catalonia voted yes. Madrid wasn’t
happy and in late 2019 a bunch of Catalonia’s lawmakers were sent to jail.
CITY OF GOOD DEATH takes place against this dicey political backdrop, wherein Catalonia has its own police, language, flag, and cultural heritage but must balance all that with Spanish national authority and the legacy of General Franco. Thus, the stage is set for wonderful levels and layers of conflict.
The “good deaths” of the title are a series of murders staged to reflect old Girona folk tales. Elisenda and her team don’t immediately recognize the pattern because the first death is that of a known mobster whose brother benefits from the shifting criminal underworld. But the killer continues to drop clues, getting bolder and
bolder—or more frantic to be caught.
Plenty of red herrings here, including a sleazy professor who is called in as a subject expert and Elisenda’s sergeant, the handsome but hot-tempered Alex. There’s a family subplot as well, and Elisenda’s own troubled backstory. Elisenda has a strong inner voice, approaches her job with dogged realism, and is a thoughtful team
Girona is a medieval walled city with innumerable stairs, narrow pedestrian streets, and Roman-era buildings. The descriptions are excellent, with enough historical details to whet your appetite for more.
Take your time, however, as some details are tricky. For example, there is a large cast of characters, some with the same first name. Titles are tricky, too. An officer in the Mossos D’Esquadra is referred to as Mosso, i.e. Officer. A few pages later, Mossèn is the honorific given to a priest but the word is not applied
consistently across characters who are priests. At first I thought that was a first name or the plural of Mosso.
With these tips in mind, CITY OF GOOD DEATH is a deeply immersive trip to a place I didn’t know I needed to see. Luckily, there are two more books in the series. Highly recommended.
Find it on Amazon here >>> https://geni.us/Elisenda