Series: White City Trilogy #01
Published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard on July 28, 2020
Genres: mystery, police procedural
A madman is holding Vitoria hostage, killing its citizens in brutal ways and staging the bodies. The city's only hope is a brilliant detective struggling to battle his own demons.
Inspector Unai López de Ayala, known as "Kraken", is charged with investigating a series of ritualistic murders. The killings are eerily similar to ones that terrorized the citizens of Vitoria twenty years earlier. But back then, police were sure they had discovered the killer, a prestigious archaeologist who is currently in jail. Now Kraken must race to determine whether the killer had an accomplice or if the wrong man has been incarcerated for two decades. This fast-paced, unrelenting thriller weaves in and out of the mythology and legends of the Basque country as it hurtles to its shocking conclusion.
This is the first book I’ve read from Spanish author Saenz de Urturi, and it’s a strong one, despite a slow start. She spends a lot of time place-setting and establishing our main characters. Things start rolling about halfway through, and the ride gets a bit wild. It all starts when our investigators, Unai and Estabeliz, are called to a crime scene exactly like a set of murders that ended 20 years before. The problem is, that murderer is in jail, and due to get out soon. Is he pulling the strings from behind bars, is there a copycat, or do they have the wrong man?
I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything set in the Basque region, so it was nice to learn something about the region and its traditions. There was also an interesting mix of religion and paganism. The only thing about the story that felt awkward to me is the relationship between Unai and Alba. It happens so quickly that it comes off as forced, though it does add some interesting wrinkles to the story. I will probably read the other two books in the trilogy, once they make it through translation.
I read this for the following reading challenges:
- 52 Book Club 2021 Challenge — first chapter ends on an odd page number
- “I never knew I needed Basque Noir crime fiction in my life until I cracked open THE SILENCE OF THE WHITE CITY by Eva García Sáenz. This immersive, intricate crime novel will thrill readers looking for high-caliber crime writing that is also just plain fun to devour.” — Crime by the Book
- “I loved this for its immersion in the life of a place and a culture that was completely new to me, while also surrounding me with all the familiar trappings of a police procedural. One that introduced me to the family of birth and choice that makes the best mystery series so compelling.” — Reading Reality
- “As I read, I seemed to be following a winding path through foggy fairy tale woods. Nothing is what it seems, no one is who they seem. Danger and hope feel equally possible around every turn. I was captivated by the story.” — Meredith Rankin Reviews