Arturo Perez-Reverte: Everything in Translation

shelved under Fiction

Arturo Perez-Reverte is a retired journalist in Madrid and spends his time writing fiction—all of it is spectacular, but not all in English, yet. I discovered Reverte by chance and became a junkie. He has a very distinctive writing style that’s clear and precise, almost like Hemingway except with more detail and lush prose, as the occasion calls. This author is for the thinker, the person who enjoys puzzles and intelligent writing.


The Club Dumas

by Sonia Soto, Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Club Dumas is a thriller. You follow Lucas Corso, rare-book hunter, as he discovers the meaning of a remaining piece of Dumas’ Three Musketeers manuscript left in the dead hands of a bibliophile. This book about books is great for readers who enjoy thrillers, Dumas, or who don’t want to put the book down until it’s over. I couldn’t put it down, and when I discovered Ninth Gate (starring Johnny Depp) is based off this book I was supremely disappointed at how much excellent material had been axed from the tale.


The Seville Communion

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Sonia Soto

Handsome Father Lorenzo Quart works for the Vatican. Quart is sent to Seville to learn more about the plea that was sent by a hacker known as “Vespers” to save Our Lady of Tears, a 17th century church. People in connection with the church turn up dead and there is a real estate deal on the line... one that Vespers wants stopped. Quart gets entangled with a cast of characters right out of a Bogart film, and I gladly followed.


The Nautical Chart

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

The Nautical Chart was the first Reverte novel I read, hooking me for a lifetime of fandom. This nautical thriller whisks you along on a modern-day adventure as Manuel Coy, a captain without a ship, and mysterious Tanger Soto come together to seek a sunken Jesuit treasure ship off the coast of Spain. I love books that involve historical references and suspense and Arturo Perez-Reverte is lord of all when it comes to such skills.


The Flanders Panel

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Jull Costa

In the Flemish painting "The Game of Chess" by Pieter Van Huys, there is a Latin inscription: Who killed the knight? Julia, an art restorer, finds the painted-over inscription and determines to solve the 15th century case with the help of her ex-lover — an art professor — and Munoz, a chess master. Never has the game of chess been more intriguing for a non-player as the moves in the painting are retraced and lost history recovered. I was entranced by the mystery as well as the art described.


The Fencing Master

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Fencing Master is set in 1800s Spain and rich in historical detail. Fencing master Don Jaime Astarloa refuses to teach women until the skilled (and deadly) Adela de Otero arrives, offering to pay handsomely, to learn the secret of "the unstoppable thrust." Soon the fencing master finds himself thrust into a new world of espionage, seduction, and many murders. I wanted to be Adela de Otero, beautiful and bold, as she, perhaps a fictional historical feminist of sorts, overturned Astarloa’s peaceful existence.


The Queen of the South

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, Arturo Perez-Reverte

This is the tale of Teresa Mendoza, whose life is changed by a single call from her drug-running boyfriend: if the phone rings once, he’s dead and she’s next. Teresa changes overnight from an innocent and trusting girl into a hardened woman, able and willing to kill. Teresa never leaves the drug world. She flees Mexico to the Mediterranean, eventually becoming the Queen of the South. This book was a drug and I was hooked. I love Arturo Perez-Reverte’s work, but not everyone is a fan of historical fiction so I was thrilled when I discovered this novel that I could recommend to family and friends who preferred modern-day fare.


Captain Alatriste

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Captain Alatriste is the first in a series about the Captain, told by his ward and page Íñgio Balboa. Alatriste is a sword-for-hire in 1620s Spain and is often involved in deadly government plots and plagued by a host of dark characters, including the beautiful and dangerous Angelica de Alquezar, with whom Íñgio promptly falls in love. The description of Spain is beautiful and the plot is fast-paced, leaving me aching for more in the series — the next can never be translated quickly enough.


Purity of Blood

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

This is the second in the Captain Alatriste series. Once again, I found myself unwilling to put the book down. In this tale, Alatriste is requested to rescue a young woman trapped in a convent and Íñgio is captured by the Inquisition after he and Alatriste are beset by their enemies, possibly the fault of young Angelica de Alquezar. Truly, this series has sprung from the mind of a new generation’s Dumas.


The Sun Over Breda

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Sun Over Breda, third in the Alatriste series, finds Captain Alatriste rejoining his Cartagena regiment, at the behest of Spain’s King Philip IV, to fight Calvinist heretics in the Flemish town of Breda. The tale is told retrospectively by an older Íñgio, who traveled with Alatriste and also fought, earning his own battle scars. This is a truly vivid tale of war and beautifully painted with no wasted words. I found the book at the public library I where I worked at the time the title was released and snatched it up before anyone else could check it out — I didn’t regret it.


The King's Gold

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Reverte continues to paint the amazing life of Captain Alatriste through Íñgio Balaboa’s eyes. Having returned to Seville penniless, Alatriste accepts a mission to intercept smuggled gold and turn it over to the king. Alatriste recruits a group of criminals to aid him and Íñgio on this adventure. Along the way they encounter Alatriste’s greatest foe, Gualtiero Malatesta. All of the books in this series, this being the fourth book, are rich in historical detail and filled with an intriguing cast of characters from courtiers and poets to assassins and dangerous women. Each time I finish reading a book in this series, I’m always disappointed to discover that the American publisher hasn’t placed the next one on the market yet.


The Painter of Battles

by Arturo Perez-Reverte, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

The Painter of Battles is a departure from Reverte’s usual writing style though no less crisp in detail or less fascinating. According to the Spanish author, a one-time war journalist, this is close to an autobiography in which the main character, Andres Faulques, has retired from photographing war to hermit himself in a crumbling tower. Faulques is in the process of painting a mural, a commentary and reimagining of war, inside the tower when someone he once photographed appears out of the blue calmly stating Faulques owes the stranger his life. I was less entranced with the tale and more with the philosophical and social commentary that really made me think. The entire novel is held together by Faulques’ mural — this imaginary painting still lives in my mind today.