Red Queen by Juan Gomez-Jurado [8/10]

A much-hyped thriller that the marketing blurbs suggest is startlingly propulsive, Red Queen turns out to be a throwback to the serial-killer books that bloomed like fungi for a decade after the success of Silence of the Lambs. This comment is not meant to be criticism; instead, the way it hews to a classic trope, combined with the author’s confident, immersive style, ensures a classic sleep-derived read. No plot spoilers here: we have a preternaturally talented killer-hunter, paired up with a shambling, “average” cop, racing to track down a diabolically clever and evil monster before he kills again. Ably translated from Spanish and benefitting from a Madrid setting, Red Queen ducks in and out of the two main characters’ viewpoints, plus those of the potential next villain, the killer, and a handful of minor characters. Clues are laid carefully and pacing is cinched tightly, so that the tension around the climax is fierce. If the ending is slightly baroque, that too, is in line with this most enjoyable thriller’s ancestors.

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