Let us return one last time to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, with Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s eagerly anticipated conclusion to his four-part series, The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Harper, $37.50). Operating within the same world as The Shadow of the Wind, this novel follows special investigator Alicia Gris, a young, beautiful, and deadly woman, orphaned by the Spanish Civil War, as she unravels one last case of a missing government minister. With the help of her gruff, unlovable partner, Vargas, and familiar Barcelona booksellers Daniel Sempere and Fermin Romero de Torres, Alicia unravels the complicated and intricate web of deception that has kept the repressive Franco regime in power for decades. This combines all the gothic, action-packed mystery that Zafón’s bibliophile fans have come to expect, along with a thrilling finale, putting the whole four-book series in brilliant perspective.
A political thriller of the highest order, The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Riverhead $27), is a rare combination of literary, mystery, historical, and political whodunit. Already highly acclaimed, Vásquez considers this book to be the masterpiece he’s been attempting to write for years. Loosely centered on the brutal murder in the Bogotá streets of the Colombian Liberal General Rafael Uribe Uribe in 1914, this is a meta-novel about the author working with a conspiracy theorist investigating the killing, and the alleged massive government and church cover-up that pinned the murder on two unskilled workers. A circular, twisting novel that jumps around in time and perspective, and echoes other, later murders of the politicians Gaitan and Kennedy, this is a sweeping blend of fact, fiction, history, and speculation that explores the way dark moments in a country’s past eerily shape its present.
Foe is an unsettling blend of a psychological thriller with an examination of the structure and support of a marriage, all the while set in a creepy near-future with hazardous advances of technology. Junior and Henrietta live isolated on a rural farm, when a stranger, Terrence, shows up to announce that Junior is being considered for an involuntary mission into space aboard the Installation. As Terrence burrows into their quiet domestic life, and Junior is ever closer to departure, the real reasons for Terrence’s intrusion into their marriage become cloudy and creepy as the thriller builds to a climax flipped on its head.