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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Sound of
One Hand Killing

Teresa Solana

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To purchase The Sound of One Hand Killing

Title: The Sound of One Hand Killing
Author: Teresa Solana
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 265 pages
Original in: Catalan
Availability: The Sound of One Hand Killing - US
The Sound of One Hand Killing - UK
The Sound of One Hand Killing - Canada
The Sound of One Hand Killing - India
L'hora zen - España
  • Catalan title: L'hora zen
  • Translated by Peter Bush

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Our Assessment:

B : great start, but too many threads, none of them quite strong enough

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 25/3/2013 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "The frequent political and social critiques of recession-torn Catalonia are of more interest than the crime solving." - Publishers Weekly

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:

       The Sound of One Hand Killing is the third in Teresa Solana's Barcelona series of the (mis)adventures of not-quite-aboveboard private investigators (they're unlicensed, for one thing) Borja and Eduard, the twin brothers who pretend they're just business partners. Borja, in particular is a phony -- but he's good at it. Still, the constant pressure of keeping up appearances, when everything about them is all fake and show, can be tough -- so also at the beginning of this novel, when they return to their offices to meet a new client and find they've been burgled, the would-be thieves tearing up the place and in the process revealing that even their offices are basically a sham, just carefully put together for show.
       The Sound of One Hand Killing begins very promisingly: a tenant with an apartment above the brother's offices turns out to be a CIA agent, and gets himself murdered. He gave Borja a key to his apartment, and when the brothers discover their offices have been ransacked they figure it would be okay to 'borrow' the upstairs apartment to meet their prospective client, so that she doesn't get the wrong impression. The discovery of the CIA man's corpse doesn't scuttle their plans, but complicates matters further, making for the typical comic confusion and cover-ups the brothers excel at, even as they dig themselves ever-deeper.
       As Eduard says to his brother before they begin to set their plan into action:

I hope this isn't another fine mess you're going to get me into.
       But readers, of course, hope for and expect nothing less. And -- no worries -- they get it.
       An amusing touch is the identity of their prospective client: mystery writer Teresa Solana. She wants to write a novel "about alternative therapies" -- specifically: "ones based on homeopathy and Bach flower remedies". Heading out of town, she doesn't have the time to do the research herself, so she wants to send the brothers off to some "exclusive, luxury alternative centre" that's currently in fashion. Borja, in particular, always perks up at the thought of being able to mingle with the exclusive and live in luxury, so they're certainly game.
       Complicating matters is the fact that Borja has another deal in the works, a little artefact he's holding onto for someone. Between that, hiding the fact that they know rather more about their neighbor's fate than they're willing to admit to the police, and the job they're doing for Solana they have a lot on their plate. When their stay at the elite Zen Moments meditation centre doesn't go quite as smoothly as hoped for, either -- soon enough, Borja stumbles across the next murdered man -- things get even more complicated.
       It's quite a few threads Solana spins here -- and it's a shame she herself retreats from the scene for most of the novel. The threads allow for some amusing confusion to arise, but they come to feel a bit thin; the competing crimes all wind up feeling watered-down.
       Of course, much of the fun (and the point) of Solana's novels is in the way the two brothers bumble and fake their way through the terrible situations they get themselves in, in dealings with the police, criminals, suspects, and various family-members. There's some charm to their efforts to maneuver through these messes of largely their own making, and with support (of sorts) from various secondary characters, from wealthy socialite and guardian angel Mariona Castany to Inspector Badia, the policeman who is aware of some of their secrets (but doesn't know the half of it ...), to their extended family, The Sound of One Hand Killing meanders along agreeably enough.
       It doesn't live up to its very strong beginning, but The Sound of One Hand Killing is fine pass-time reading -- and offers an amusing look at contemporary Barcelona along the way.

- M.A.Orthofer, 16 April 2013

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The Sound of One Hand Killing: 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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© 2013-2021 the complete review

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