cover image Child's Play

Child's Play

Carmen Posadas, , trans. from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson. . Harper, $24.99 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-06-158362-9

The line between fiction and reality blurs with disturbing results for Spanish mystery writer Luisa Dávila in Posadas's disappointing suspense novel. Luisa's latest mystery focuses on the strange death of a child at a Madrid private school, similar to the one where Luisa's 11-year-old daughter, Elba, is enrolled (and Luisa herself attended as a teen). She also draws on the accidental death 40 years earlier of her classmate, Antonio Gasset, who fell while playing with his twin brother Miguel, Luisa and the bewitching Sofía Márquez. Now, Sofía is a teacher at the school, and her daughter becomes Elba's best friend. When Miguel's son, who also attends the school, dies under mysterious circumstances, Luisa is alarmed by the parallels not only to her own life but to the story she's creating for her character. The similarities Posadas (The Last Resort ) draws between Luisa's childhood, the fictional case and Elba's school life are frustratingly heavy-handed, leaving nothing to the reader's imagination. (Aug.)