Review by Ian Keogh
Two separate incidents occur on the same day in Barcelona. A young mother, Toni, prevents an old man from being run down when he crosses against the lights, sustaining injury herself, and a gruesomely disfigured corpse is deposited in a historically important building, yet no-one can explain how this occurred. The strange connecting point appears to be Anton Gaudí, designing architect of Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Writer El Torres (Juan Antonio Torres) weaves Barcelona and its decorative structures throughout his story, both a love letter advert for the city’s beauty and an investigative deconstruction of architectural purpose. They’re also central to the plot hinting at civic desecration of Barcelona’s history, El Torres delivering a plea via murders of people who’d prioritise profit over preservation. His lead investigator Inspector Jaime Skinner is unconventional, but being able to make leaps others can’t also means he’s occasionally wrong, providing a fallible contrast to his brusquely efficient personality.
Cartoonist Jesús Alsonso Iglesias initially seems a strange choice to illustrate a crime story set in the real world needing authentic depiction of famous architecture, but he’s so good that he’ll seduce any reader over the earliest pages. The characters are exaggerated, but there’s a formidable lively energy about them, and Iglesias delivers the buildings and parks beautifully, their baroque and vividly colourful nature transmitted enticingly and in full detail.
The ghost element of the title is due to Toni seeing someone who seems to be Gaudí on several occasions, but he manifests and disappears rapidly before she can communicate properly. The site of her accident is revealed as that where Gaudí was struck by a tram and killed in 1926. Seasoned crime readers may figure out the mystery before Inspector Skinner, but ultimately that’s not the point, it’s just a clip to hold the backdrop together, and that’s so compellingly conveyed. Surely, the gruesome content notwithstanding, no-one could read The Ghost of Gaudí without it sparking a desire to visit Barcelona to see these landmarks.