Monday, August 06, 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Prisoner of Heaven

Yvonne Zipp reviews Carlos Ruiz Zafon's "The Prisoner of Heaven"

"The Prisoner of Heaven" is Zafon's third novel set around Sempere & Sons bookstore and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a fabled repository in Barcelona where people are allowed to choose one volume in their lifetime. Oh, you could digitize all those rare editions, but where's the drama in that?

Zafon claims you don't have to read his books in chronological order, but "The Prisoner of Heaven" would be a confusing place to start. This slender novel provides some answers to what happened to David Martin, the writer who made a Faustian bargain in "The Angel's Game" (2009), and to the mother of Daniel, the young hero in "The Shadow of the Wind" (2004).

Each of the novels in this series revolves around a particular rare book. This time, "The Count of Monte Cristo" gets pride of place. Several key plot points parallel Dumas's classic of wrongful imprisonment and revenge.

It's Christmas 1957, and customers are scarce at Sempere & Sons; bills are coming due. But then a man with a porcelain hand enters the store and buys the most expensive book, an edition of "The Count of Monte Cristo." He inscribes it: "For Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from among the dead and holds the key to the future."

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