Part of a trilogy with over 1 million books sold, The Silence of the White City unites mythology, archeology, family secrets and criminal psychology in one thriller macabre and exciting published by Intrinsic. The book already has a recently released adaptation available in the Netflix catalog. The best seller written by Eva Garcia Sáenz de Urturi, a very successful Spanish author in her country, takes place in the Spanish region where the author was born and raised, which brings great truth to the plot, as she managed to create a macabre suspense novel, mixed with myths and the culture of the local.
“Young couple found naked in historic monuments surrounded by sunflowers with ages always multiple of 5.”
The book is narrated by Unai, a police investigator specializing in the analysis of criminal profiles who works in partnership with Stable at the city police station. It all started with macabre murders in the city of Vitória Gaenz, where two naked bodies positioned in a millimetric calculated way, one with the hand over the other's face as if they were sleeping. At the ends, as if forming a triangle and when analyzing the bodies, the coroners point out that they were doped, but the real cause of death was the stings of bees in the neck. When starting the investigations, Unaí and Estibaliz discover that both had nothing in common, except age: 20 years.
Initially, it could be understood as an occasional crime, but the curious thing is that it referred exactly to the crimes committed 20 years earlier by Tasio, twin brother of the former city investigator, Ignacio, which would be released a few weeks after that event. It was not known whether it was a prank someone was playing, or whether it was the killer himself acting again or someone on Tasio's orders committing the crimes. But, if it were the second option, how would the crime have occurred if the murderer was in prison? The city was in chaos.
In the course of the plot, everything starts to get worse when other couples are found in very striking and important points for the city's history. The crimes shock by the perfection and skill of the murderer, which is surprisingly revealed in the final chapters of the book. With each new chapter, new similarities are drawn in the crimes, both among themselves, and with those that occurred years before in the city. The crimes are charged with patterns and meanings, from the disposition of the bodies, to the age of the victims, the presence of eguzkilore around and the place. Another very relevant thing is the fixation that the killer has for time, portrayed in a clear and striking way, because the age of the victims follows a pattern, the timing of the crimes is calculated and even the construction date of the places that served as a stage for his “show” was analyzed.
Another story is told by the author in parallel that with chronological details help to explain details, which the researcher could not know on his own, and which bring the cyclical sensation of events in the city. In this parallel, she focuses on telling the story before the arrival of the twins Tásio and Ignácio, Unai's first suspects. Later, the investigator comes to know about these events, but the isolated form that was told, allows the story to follow a flow that does not leave the reading tiring or confused. Even so, the author also invests in a spicy romance full of secrets and emotions in full swing, being a secondary item to investigation. The new subdelegate of the city, Alba Salvatierra (also known as Blanca in his spare time) meets Unai (or rather Ismael) in a morning run before being properly introduced. There is the classic moment when both are more free and open than in the work environment and allow themselves to perceive each other's scars in a more pure and essential way.
"When someone who kills in series is a hell of a genius, all that's left is praying that they don't draw their number in the death lottery."
Throughout the reading, we realized that Inspector Unaí is not 100% well with regard to the loss of his wife and children, and we realize that Alba helps him to gradually let go of the painful memory of the family's death and with that a growing mixture of admiration, similarities and quotes that they both understood starts to feed the hearts of the two policemen, but Alba was married and the most curious thing is that she never mentions him.
A very positive point is that the author was concerned with making all events happen to be discovered by researchers, Unaí, Estibaliz and company, and by us readers. The scare was the same, both for the character and for the reader. And in a fluid way, the story unfolds without losing its breath. Another very well executed point is the construction of the characters that have a story, which are complex and very interesting. Estibaliz, represents a strong, intelligent and very rational woman. The grandfather of Unaí, shows a wisdom very intrinsic to his time, the twins are amazed by their complicated life stories full of unusual events and the best villain ever created. This villain is intelligent, skillful, perceptive, someone who can be several in the same being. It is a very well constructed character, which manages to shock the final revelation.
Finally, some elements of the investigation could be deduced before they were even counted. Despite this, all points were very consistent and the sequence they were placed in was harmonious in the plot. Every little detail was well worked out later, following that concept of keys that open other doors that bring more essential clues in the development of the narrative. A point to be considered would be the inclusion of a map so that the reader has a view of the place when the places are mentioned, a glossary, as some words are unknown, footnotes to explain aspects of culture such as the cultural celebrations that are cited in the course of reading and illustrations, of eguzkilores, for example.
Anyway, with an interesting mystery and a fluid and captivating investigation, The Silence of the White City it is worth reading.