Reseña literaria de Cristina Redondo

Las cenizas de la inocencia, Fernando Benzo

Las cenizas de la inocencia, by Fernando Benzo (Plaza & Janes, 2019), is a thriller book written in the purest hardboiled style of the North American 1930s. In this slowly narration, Fernando Benzo takes us into Madrid in the 1940s, in an environment of gangsters, jazz and mafias that could well have escaped from a black film movie of the 1950s due to the images that the narrative gives us. Fernando Benzo gets into poverty, but also from the gangsters who control the Madrid squad of the 1940s, in which two very different men from the world establish a friendship and start a path that will force them to face difficult decisions that It will make them change the course of their lives forever.
What I liked most about this novel is the setting, which has transported me to the classic cinema of the fifties and it could even be said that, sometimes, the scenes located in bars reminded me of the classic of the black novel Dashiell Hammet “Red Harvest”, for the scenes in the billiards, or also in the Dixie with jazz music sung by a glamorous woman, in the most true American style. The stories parallel to the main one, of the gangsters mixed with the underworld of Madrid, give you the feeling of reading an authentic hardboiled but written by a contemporary author and, instead of locating it, in the most boiled Chicago, it is located in the most difficult Madrid of the post-war period.
The plot narrated in Las cenizas de la inocencia leads us to a hard story, like the classic genre that it emulates, but also with the unexpected twists, which are enough for the reader to continue reading the story, which despite and not catches, continues to lead you lightly through the narrative until the end of the book.
Fernando Benzo (Madrid, 1965) has a degree in Law and Civil Administrator of the State. In 1989 he published his first novel, Los años felices, after winning the Castillo-La Mancha Prize. For some years he focused exclusively on the short story and won, among others, the Max Aub Foundation International Short Story Prize and was awarded in well-known competitions such as the Gabriel Miró or the Gabriel Arestí. Ten sad stories collect his award-winning stories.
With his second novel, Mary Lou and the comfortable life, he obtained the prestigious Kutxa-Ciudad de Irún in 1994. Since then, he has published the novels The treason of mermaids, After the Rain (Ciudad de Majadahonda Award), I will never repeat your name and The shipwrecked people of the Plaza Mayor. He has also made forays into other genres such as theatre, combining his literary career with his career in the Public Administration, which has led him to occupy the positions of Undersecretary of Education, Culture and Sport of the Secretary of State for Culture.

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