Minotaur, Jul 20 2010, $24.99
In 1937 in Madrid, Spain Ernest Hemingway feels like a fraud rather than the literary God that everyone seems to think he is. He feels he has achieved nothing noteworthy lately and simply lives off an underserved reputation.
His friend, writer John Dos Passos, encourages Hemingway to investigate the execution of Jose Robles. Hemingway met the late medical volunteer several years ago when both were in Italy. Recently Robles was accused of being a Marxist spy; his corpse was left near Valencia where it lied for several weeks before being found. Obsessed with finding answers, Hemingway working from the Hotel Florida begins his inquiry into who killed Robles; assisted by unwelcome socialite Mordaunt Worsleighson.
This is a terrific historical tale with a strong whodunit as its underpinning. The story line occurs almost two decades before Atkinson’s previous Hemingway Deadlights as the macho hero struggles with being a drunk who writes garbage until he heeds the advice of his meek writing pal. With a nod to For Whom The Bell Tolls, Hemingway investigates the murder of Robles in his inevitable bullying Noir style though he never quite explains why he cares. Still with cameos and violence adding to the feel of being in Spain during the bloody civil war, Hemingway struggles between the legend and the man.