Madrid. Costa del Sol. Spain.
“His moustache was thicker than ever, so stiff a fly could have strolled out to the end, like a prisoner walking the plank on a pirate ship. Except that flies can’t survive in a cold room and thirty below zero, and neither could the owner of the blond frozen moustache: Nestor Chaffino, chef and pastry cook, renowned for his masterful way with a chocolate fondant."
The famous clairvoyant Madame Longstaffe, with her Yoruba accent, predicted Nestor Chaffino of the Mulberry & Mistletoe - restaurant's death with her words: "He who believes he is mortally ill shall die not by his illness but by ice, and he who believes that words can kill should not keep them so close to his heart."
He had a little moleskin black book containing more than secret recipes. A few little indiscretions by ordinary people who hit behind their social high class, were dutifully recorded as well. Perhaps a book. Who knows? But he thought that Madame Longstaffe did not know about the little notebook at all.
Yet, the old woman insisted: "Do as you please, enjoy yourself, my friend, fall in love, write a scandalous novel, learn how to play the bassoon, whatever you like. Don't worry about your future, because Madame Longstaffe has seen it clearly: Nestor has nothing to fear until four T's conspire against him....For your luck to turn, four T's would have to join forces, and that could never come to pass, could it? Although coincidences do occur. The gods are fond of practical jokes."
Nestor, with his little black moleskin notebook of secret indiscretions did not believe in coincidences. He didn't think it was hard to cheat destiny, after all not after his own secret discoveries. Adela Teldi would have to stay where she was found, still locked up in that armoire, she, with her little indiscretions with its unforeseen consequences, her own homemade Greek tragedy, her own soap opera scandal. No it was not that hard to cheat destiny. If the gods can play tricks, so can he. "And then, predictably employing a gastronomical simile, he vowed that the little indiscretion would never be divulged, because coincidences, he thought, are like soufflés: they come to nothing unless someone takes the trouble to beat, stir, or otherwise agitate the egg whites."
The plot is so amazingly constructed. Every element in the story belongs there. A wide variety of social issues addressed with infinite finesse, often satirically, and all the characters are well defined.
Now that's the formal part of the review. What I find difficult to explain is how this book was not about thrifty detectives or whodunit-tricks pulled from a magician's imaginary black hat. It is a murder mystery, by any means, but oh so very different.
"With a real death and a couple of basic ideas, it is not hard to spin a story of passion, secrets, and malice, because lies can be perfectly convincing if they contain an element of truth."
Even this observation does not really explain why this murder mystery was totally different, and when someone is murdered, a confession will come. It is the form in which it is presented that will blow your socks of.
AMAZON BOOK BLURB
A runaway international bestseller and winner of Spain’s top literary prize, Little Indiscretions is part ingeniously entertaining whodunit and part sparkling social satire.
Business is slow for Nestor Chaffino, pastry chef to the rich and famous, until he’s invited to cater a party in a villa on the Costa del Sol. When Nestor is found frozen to death in a walk-in freezer with a notebook in his hand, the party guests gathered that evening are the natural suspects. But who could have it in for a harmless cook?
The answer, it turns out, is just about everyone who happens to be staying in the house. Nestor, while quietly stirring his sauces and whisking his egg whites, had decided to publish a compendium of gastronomic secrets that revealed, along with the culinary tricks of his trade, more than a few damning details of the hosts’ and houseguests’ private lives. To what lengths would they go to ensure that Nestor maintained a more permanent sense of discretion?
Not since Nick and Nora Charles’s last cocktail party has such a merry band of mischief makers convened in one place. Little Indiscretions marks the discovery of a phenomenal writer with tremendous flair. It’s a gourmet treat readers will pounce on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She was born in Montevideo in 1953 as the daughter of a Uruguayan diplomat. She has lived in Madrid since 1965. Besides Madrid, she has also lived in many capital cities including Moscow, Buenos Aires, and London where her father was ambassador.
She went to Oxford University but left before graduating when she married Rafael de Cueto. They had two children, Sofia (1975) and Jimena (1978). She later divorced de Cueto and married Mariano Rubio. In 1985, she was granted Spanish nationality. In 1988, she became a host on Spanish public television RTVE.
She began her literary career in 1980 writing books for children. In 1984, she won the Premio Nacional de Literatura (Spanish prize of literature). In 1996 she published her first novel, Cinco Moscas Azules (Five Blue Flies) which was one of the most original and successful books of the year. Her second novel, Pequeñas infamias (Little Indiscretions), won the coveted Planeta Prize in 1998. Since then, she has sold more than a million copies in more than fifty countries and she has been translated in 23 languages. More recent successful books are "Childs Play" and "The Red Ribbon"
GENRES: Spain, Costa Del Sol, Madrid, Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Drama
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio Cassette
Number of Pages: 320
Publishing date: July 12, 2005
Publishers: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Original language: Spanish (title 'Pequeñas infamias')
Edition language: English
Edition language: English
Literary awards: Planeta Prize in 1998