cover image The Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven

Carlos Ruis Zaf%C3%B3n. Harper, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-220628-2

Characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game reconvene in Zaf%C3%B3n's newest literary thriller. When a stranger shows up at the struggling Sempere & Sons bookshop in Barcelona in 1957 to buy a rare and expensive volume, Daniel Sempere%E2%80%94the son%E2%80%94sets out to uncover the mysterious man's motives. The resulting mix of history and mystery drives this third installment in Zaf%C3%B3n's cycle about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a "sprawling labyrinth%E2%80%A6like the trunk of an endless tree." What Daniel discovers will implicate those he loves, has lost, and loathes%E2%80%94from his soon-to-be-wed friend, Ferm%C3%ADn; to Daniel's mother, Isabella, who died under questionable circumstances; his father; his wife, Bea, and infant son, Julian; and a host of schemers, torturers, corrupt governmental officials, writers, and lovers, many of whom have changed identities, hurriedly penned secret missives, and stashed keys to hidden treasures. Zaf%C3%B3n's storytelling is deft and well-paced, and his vivid prose brings the cultural riches and political strife of Franco-era Spain to life. Though the book will undoubtedly please readers familiar with his other novels, as the introduction explains, the book is a "self-contained tale" capable of standing alone%E2%80%94something it does with aplomb. (July)