cover image The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories

Teresa Solana, trans. from the Catalan by Peter Bush. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade

This subtly inventive story collection from Spanish author Solana (The Sound of One Hand Killing) floats effortlessly from whimsy to horror, from exploring the inner life of ghosts to witnessing a murderous gang fight. The book is divided into two sections: the first contains five humorous stories of dark fantasy; the second is eight interconnected tales of crime among the Barcelona bourgeoisie. In the title story, cave dweller Mycroft attempts to solve the third head bashing among his troglodyte clan in 14 moons, and in the process invents religion. Another highlight is “Still Life No. 41,” in which a museum curator is fired when one of a sculptor’s works turns out to be the rotting body of the sculptor. Also notable is “The Second Mrs. Appleton,” in which a husband who poisons his wife receives fitting retribution. Solana’s understated narratives allow the criminality or weirdness to build until the reader is unexpectedly immersed in it. All are well worth reading. (Sept.)