The Angel's Game, By Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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The Independent Culture

This lavishly Gothic prequel to The Shadow of the Wind revisits Zafón's favourite Barcelona cityscapes. Yet the novel (translated again by Lucia Graves) stands apart from its forerunner: more about the woes of writing than the joys of reading. In the strife-torn 1920s, lonely hack David Martí*rises from a life of drudgery, spewing out lurid potboilers.

An enigmatic publisher offers him a fortune to write a book to found a new religion. The scribbler's own story – a murdered father, an icy mother, a patrician protector, a true love imprisoned in a tower – outranks in sensation anything in his Grand Guignol yarns. Beyond plentiful shocks and thrills, Zafón niftily treads the fine line between a story of paranormal events and one of psychological delusion.