Excerpts from At Close Quarters, by Eugenio Fuentes

Fuentes I've recently finished At Close Quarters by Eugenio Fuentes. My review will shortly be submitted to Euro Crime, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some small extracts from this lovely book:

The only solution was to go to the detective. He was a quiet guy for his trade, but Samuel remembered him well, a tall calm person who waited patiently for his answers. Neither had Samuel forgotten his questions or the way he'd phrased them. Because he did not put you on the spot like a priest or a lawyer, but asked things in the manner of a doctor who won't give a diagnosis before he has all the information and cannot but sympathise with the patient.

Cupido pictured the kind of people living there: a slightly pretentious middle class, so used to comfort, security and consumerism that they would get anxious if, of a morning, they didn't find at least three menu options in their capacious fridges. An urban middle class, well adapted to their times, who regarded the past century as deep in the past, who had barely any recollections of the countryside, the fields which seemed to them an exotic place one could never return to. A satisfied middle class, not necessarily conservative, for whom luxury did not consist of jewels, dresses, aristocratic circles, owning land, founding big companies, or consolidating lineages of prestigious surnames whose scions achieved more than the parents, but a sceptical, well-meaning middle class who often had children rather late in life and did not expect them to be heroes or landowners or millionaires or geniuses, but were concerned only with their well-being, people who were happy for their children to have a professional future like their own present, untouched by uncertainty, conflicts and global instability.

"What kind of person do you have to be to become a private detective? What happened to him that he chose such a profession?"
"I don't know. It used to be said that they were all ex-cops… fired from their jobs because of drinking problems."

Not only the soldiers answered the call. Patriotic voices could be heard coming from the civilians' stands, while the detective remained in stony silence, alone and removed from everyone around him. He was no longer touched by stories that weren't intimate and individual. Any collective outburst to do with politics, religion or one's homeland left him cold.

The world of teenagers was incomprehensible to him. He didn't find it easy to communicate with them; at times they spoke like parrots and at others barely used one-syllable words. He was disconcerted by their sudden oscillations between apathy and excess, the enthusiasm with which they embraced some fashion and the scorn with which they later rejected it, their nearly violent sulkiness and their occasional, impulsive displays of affection, the sincerity of their promises and the ease with which they broke them, their lack of appetite and their feeding frenzies.

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