“The North Face of the Heart” by Dolores Redondo, translated by Michael Meigs (Amazon Crossing, 475 pages, $ 24.95)
The human heart has four distinct chambers. Not so “The north face of the heart”. Dolores Redondo’s atmospheric new thriller is multifaceted and layered, driving a compelling search for a serial killer in the heart of a hurricane.
Fans of Redondo, one of Spain’s best-selling writers, know the brilliant detective Amaia Salazar well. Here, the author offers a prequel to his Baztan trilogy in a standalone origin story: Salazar is only 25 years old and is a deputy inspector of a Spanish provincial police force who has been invited to attend a series of law enforcement conferences in the United States.
During one of these lectures, Salazar learns of the existence of a serial killer, aka the composer, targeting families affected by natural disasters. Already on the FBI’s radar for a past case she solved in Spain, Salazar is chosen among students because of his unorthodox criticism of the current presentation – a trait that will become a future hallmark – to help l ‘investigation.
When this investigation takes the team to New Orleans on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, things unwind with the surge of high winds, alternately covering and revealing facts and fabrications as Salazar navigates a besieged city, the obtuse hierarchy of the FBI, experienced local police officers and a Cajun “healer”.
Both out of her physical element and completely proficient at building the psychological profile of a killer, in this first story we see the young Inspector weathering the storms and temper tantrums of the department with Redondo providing a healthy dose of it. traumatic story of Salazar.
Much of the magic is in the author’s performances of New Orleans in 2005, just before the hurricane and killer were about to strike. Bet the composer – so named because a witness to an earlier murder saw him ‘waving his arms like someone conducting an orchestra’ – will strike in the wake of what is expected to be one of the natural disasters the most violent in the country is only a hurdle the elite team takes. It is on Salazar that we put a large part of the bet because it is she who is able to make connections that others cannot: the theatrical arm movements following a series of murders could reflect a service liturgical, and it is the inspector who offers the most convincing answer for the similarity of the victims chosen and such things as the orientation of the bodies after death.
The fact that much of his seeming clairvoyance comes at the cost of someone who has gone through horrific trauma does not go unnoticed by the team leader, FBI Agent Aloisius Dupree. It’s Dupree who acknowledges that Salazar’s intuition is inspired by the evils of his past, and the interaction between the two officers is brilliantly crafted by Redondo in a foreshadowing of the detective’s drive to True North.
For the uninitiated, “The North Face of the Heart” offers a deep dive into the Redondo series. For fans, exhuming ghosts from the past will flesh out the textured sleuth even further.