Black Sun Rising by Matthew Carr
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.9 MB
When the scientist and explorer Randolph Foulkes is blown up in a random terrorist bomb attack, private detective Harry Lawton is hired by the man’s widow to identify the beneficiary of a large payment Foulkes had made shortly before his death. Lawton’s arrival in the Catalan capital coincides with a series of unusual killings that appear to have been carried out by a blood-drinking animal in the Ramblas district and adds another element of instability to a city already teetering on the brink of insurrection. Lawton soon meets and teams up with Esperanza Claramunt, a young anarchist whose lover was one of the victims of the “beast of the Ramblas,” and the Catalan crime reporter Bernat Mata, who has begun investigating these crimes. So what begins as a straightforward investigation into presumed marital infidelity turns into something far more sinister, as Lawton probes Foulkes’ connections to the mysterious Explorers Club, the Barcelona political police, and an eccentric Austrian hypnotist. Adrift in a city gripped by rebellion and lawlessness, Lawton enters a labyrinth of murder, corruption, political conflict, and crazed racial pseudo-science where no one’s survival is guaranteed.
It was nearly 9:15 when he reached the watchmaker’s shop at the top of the Ramblas and crossed the road toward the floral glass and striped awnings of the Bar la Luna. By lunchtime the café would be packed, but now there were only a few customers scattered around the terraced tables. In the far corner an elderly gentleman was sitting under the awning, accompanied by a woman who looked considerably younger. The man was tall and distinguished, with old-fashioned white sideburns, and a flat-topped hat. He looked English or German. His companion was wearing a veil over her eyes, but Hermenigildo could see enough of her face to see that she was pretty. He ordered a coffee and looked out toward the watchmaker’s clock, while the woman sipped at a cup of hot chocolate and the foreign gentleman pored over what appeared to be a guidebook.
At 9:50 Hermenigildo laid some coins on the table. A moment later the woman got up and went inside. The foreign gentleman was still immersed in his book, and Hermenigildo tried not to look at his face or the faces of the other customers, because it was better not to dwell on such things. It was better to think of himself as a shell that had been fired, and had now reached its destination. He pushed the bag under the table and walked out toward the street. Even as he left the café he half-expected to hear someone calling him back, but now he was out of sight of the terrace and walking quickly across the Plaza Catalunya. He was halfway across the square when the bomb exploded behind him. Even from that distance the noise made him jump, and he seemed to feel the hot air blowing toward him. His first instinct was to keep walking, but he sensed that he was more likely to attract attention to himself if he did. Instead he turned and looked back. In spite of himself he could not help admiring what he had unleashed. There was power and beauty in the explosion and its aftermath. It was as if a small volcano had erupted from underneath the city, bursting up through the café in a cascade of fire, smoke, leaves, and debris. For a moment the blast seemed to reverberate through the streets, swallowing all other sounds, and then he heard the first screams and saw the customers running out into the street. Directly opposite the café a tram had come to a halt, and its passengers were staring with horrified fascination as a woman staggered out onto the pavement. Hermenigildo was pleased to see that it was not the woman who had been sitting with the foreign gentleman. This woman was older and stouter and not as pretty. Her face and hair were covered with dust and her dress was stained red.
It was not until she turned toward him that he realized that one of her arms was missing. He thought that he had seen enough now, and as he walked away he could not help feeling slightly sick.