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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

A Shortcut to Paradise

Teresa Solana

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To purchase A Shortcut to Paradise

Title: A Shortcut to Paradise
Author: Teresa Solana
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng.2011)
Length: 284 pages
Original in: Catalan
Availability: A Shortcut to Paradise - US
Atajo al paraíso - US (Spanish)
A Shortcut to Paradise - UK
A Shortcut to Paradise - Canada
A Shortcut to Paradise - India
Höllenfahrt ins Paradies - Deutschland
Scorciatoia per il paradiso - Italia
Drecera al paradís - España
Atajo al paraíso - España
  • Catalan title: Drecera al paradís
  • Translated by Peter Bush

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Our Assessment:

B : decent fun, if a bit unsure about what kind of approach it wants to take

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 22/3/2011 Amanda Hopkinson

  From the Reviews:
  • "Clues are scattered like the breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel, and the whole has the implausible air of a fairy-tale night where only the unexpected is predictable. Not that confusion matters nearly as much as you might think. Once aboard the roller-coaster, the reader is swept onwards, disbelief firmly suspended, and critical faculties sparked on every occasion that the author introduces another suspect, another decoy -- or another genre." - Amanda Hopkinson, The Independent

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       In A Shortcut to Paradise author Marina Dolç wins a big (at least in cash if not quite yet prestige terms) literary prize, the Golden Apple Fiction Award, and is promptly bludgeoned to death (with the prize trophy, no less); the obvious suspect, and the man soon arrested, is Amadeu Cabestany -- the runner-up for the prize. Amadeu's agent (and sometime lover) hires the not-identical twins Eduard and Borja -- familiar from A Not So Perfect Crime -- to investigate and prove his innocence.
       Eduard and Borja put on a good show, but don't really belong in the high-society circles that they like to draw their clientele from. They're not real detectives either (as they do admit), but facilitators and investigators who, despite considerable bungling, have a decent success rate. Typically, Borja happened to actually be at the hotel celebrating with the literary crowd when the murder took place -- but then had to hide under a table for six hours until the police cleared out so that his cover wouldn't be blown (since even the most superficial investigation into his identity would have revealed that he wasn't exactly the sort that belonged in such a high society crowd, destroying the carefully cultivated (but completely fake) image that was the foundation of their business).
       The novel doesn't begin with any of this, but rather with a down-on-his-luck translator who is driven to a desperate act. As it happens, that makes him the perfect alibi for Amadeu -- but, like the other person who could alibi the suspect, admitting to it would cause him great problems and so he doesn't immediately go to the police to clear things up.
       Parts of A Shortcut to Paradise are narrated by Eduard and describe his fumbling investigation with Borja, but much of the novel presents omnisciently narrated accounts of other events. The different perspectives make a bit of a mess of things: the novel never manages to really come into focus, as it goes off on these different tangents. Solana seems uncertain whether her priority is to make fun of all those involved -- from the literati (writers, critics, translators, and agents) to the media to the police -- or unravel a mystery, and for the most part she seems to prefer to settle on social satire over mystery-solving (with decidedly mixed results -- Amadeu getting himself labeled a cannibal is, for example, a bit of a stretch).
       Dolç's prize-winning novel is, of course, also titled A Shortcut to Paradise -- and involves someone entering a novel (with the title -- you guessed it -- A Shortcut to Paradise) for a literary prize and then getting themselves killed after winning. Solana has some fun with this -- and with bestselling author Dolç's reputation, and then especially with the peculiar but very amusing fate of her prize-winning novel -- but all of this (and especially what becomes of the novel) feels anecdotal: jokes, rather than parts of a real story. Eduard's conclusion about Dolç's novel applies to Solana's as well: "A Shortcut to Paradise was a cul-de-sac."
       By not centering the novel around Eduard and Borja and their investigation Solana makes things a bit too easy for herself -- and she can't keep herself from taking advantage to swat at all sorts of targets along the way. Most of this makes for good, agreeable fun, but it also feels a bit arbitrary, and doesn't quite add up to a mystery -- yet she also leaves the murder hanging ominously enough over the whole the book that it doesn't quite work simply as free-wheeling satire either.
       There's enough here to entertain, and a lot of this is very amusing, but it does all feel a bit unfocused -- a shame, because both the material and Solana's talents suggest considerably more could have been made of this.

- M.A.Orthofer, 9 May 2011

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A Shortcut to Paradise: Reviews: Other books by Teresa Solana under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Catalan author Teresa Solana was born in 1962.

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