Fallas, a corpse, and corrupt politicians

The Valencian writer, Juan Ballester, is back with his third novel, “Ese otro que hay en ti” (Cuanto te quiero editions) -translated to English as “What we are made of”-, in which, apparently, everthing has its place. This time it is a thriller with romantic overtones that begins with the death of a young girl, Vicenta Campos, whose corpse, still dressed as a typical fallera, has been ravaged by a Catalan coroner who practised its autopsy. The girl, who died, supposedly, in an accident, is the origin of a story which begins in Fallas of 1999. Along comes one of the leading characters, a corrupt lawyer who launders his clients’ black money and who must unravel the mystery of the case.

Ballester takes all these ingredients and sets up a dark tale in which nothing is what it seems. Inside, the reader will be suddenly immersed in tax havens, luxury, and revelations which would undoubtedly undermine current politics.

This dark tale is also about “amorous friendships”, which will stir the reader’s emotions and life experience from the beginning. How can a young girl’s corpse be sullied? What is this lawyer, used to dealing with politicians who misappropriate public resources, doing being involved in such a terrifying case? How do the pieces of this puzzle come together? No question will be left without response in this novel, because the author will elaborate an intricate detective story in order to clarify the facts, which will sometimes become so entangled that one cannot tell the good from the bad.

“Ese otro que hay en ti” is an essentially good novel, with very interesting dialogues and an exhilarating narrative which takes place in the perfect scenario for the thriller and its romantic guideline, the city of Valencia.

Special mention must be made of the lawyer Ibáñez, an excellently elaborated character who, despite his somewhat illegal manouevres, will win the reader’s sympathy right away.

Juan Ballester (Valencia, 1959), is the XXII Narrative Awardee of the Valencian Literary Criticism Association. He has published a dozen works, including essays, tales for children, and more than two hundred newspaper articles. In his bibliography we must highlight “Qué haces con tus pies en mi piscina” (2005), “Veinte niños escritos por una novela” (2008), “El efecto Starlux” (2012), and “Buenas noches, Supertramp” (2013).



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