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  • Reviews for Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts by Teresa Solana
  • Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts |  Review |  Teresa Solana
Reviews for Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts by Teresa Solana
‘Starts with “Still Life No 41”, shortlisted for the short story 2012 Edgar Award, in which the young twenty-six year old Director of the Museum of Ultra-Avant-Garde Art is pushed out of her job on the orders of the Minister of Culture. She's naturally outraged. While it's true she only got the job because the previous director had been her uncle and her father used his political pull with the Minister, it wasn't her fault that the first exhibition she curated should turn out like that. The Museum had been negotiating for two years to persuade the artist to allow his work to be displayed. Our first-person narrator simply came in at the end with the deal in place. All she had to do was display what arrived. Which is what she did even though there was one more piece than the Museum was expecting. The launch was a triumph. Even the canapés were deemed sensational. After the excitement of the opening, every art critic who attended during the first days of the exhibition was ecstatic, confirming the forty-first work to be one of the finest example of modern art he or she had seen for years. It's all so unfair she should be the political scapegoat. The reason why “A Stitch in Time” is so successful is the tone. I mean if I was going to do something like this, I would have to be organised and stay calm. This is not the kind of thing to do when you're all-a-flutter. Perhaps one of the more powerful anti-anxiety pills would be a good idea, just to settle the nerves but, once started, I would need to keep myself in one piece emotionally without external aid. And then it's all as I rehearsed when the police come. Oh yes, the police are almost certain to come. But I'll have everything ready by then. . . It's the same with “The Thought That Counts”, a strangely dispassionate history of the life of a vampire. Did you know what having your very own vampire in residence does for the tourist trade? Everyone wants to come for the dark and forbidding castle and to sample the atmosphere where the beast sucked the life out of so many virgins. Anyway, having lived a lonely unlife through the centuries, you can imagine how our hero feels when someone tells him another bloodsucker has moved into his territory, and without so much as a by-your-leave or a friendly “Hello”. “The First (Pre) Historic Serial Killer” shows a troglodyte of above-average intelligence tasked with the job of investigating three murders. Someone is bashing out the brains of his fellow cave dwellers with conveniently-to-hand rocks which is disturbing the amenity of the cave and putting some of the other men on edge — at least those bright enough to see a correlation between dead men and blood-stained rocks left a few feet away from the body. Our hero is able to discount Geoffrey as a suspect because a bear ate his arms which makes rock-wielding a challenge. But be reassured, our Sherlock of the Stone Age is going to crack the case as soon as he realizes the game's afoot, or something. And finally, “The Offering” has a pathologist readying himself for an autopsy without realizing it's the body of one of the secretaries working at his clinic who's apparently committed suicide. When the truth sinks in, he grows obsessed with the question why she should have taken her life. He visits her apartment and learns something of her by observing what she left behind. But it's when he confronts the body that he realizes her motive. This story, like the others in this short collection, has a brooding sense of tragedy overlain with a satirical sensibility. Thematically, we're concerned with individuals who find their lives turned upside down by events. The Museum director accepts the additional exhibit, the mother can only find love for her child, the vampire is first curious then angered another is attacking the people who live around him, the detective who can penetrate the mysteries of life, and the pathologist who finds unexpected beauty. Set out in simple phrases, this fails to capture the wit and humour underlying the sometimes gory subject matter. Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts is not quite black humour, but it's certainly dark grey and a delightful surprise in a world that's largely forgotten the function satire is supposed to perform, i.e. as a form of social commentary or criticism designed to encourage the world to improve. This review should encourage us to try Teresa Solana's latest mystery novel The Sound of One Hand Killing which comes out in May.' Opionator - Opionator
'Barcelona in Catalonia is where they the play the best football in Europe and walk around smiling because of all the sunshine. Or so we thought. Admittedly, the sun does not entirely disappear in this impressive and very collection of stories by Teresa Solana but the fun is very dark indeed. In ‘Crazy Tales', the oddest things happen. Statues decompose and stink out galleries, two old grandmothers are vengeful killers, a prehistoric detective on the verge of becoming the first religious charlatan trails a triple murder that is threatening cave life as the early innocents knew it, and a mortician falls in love with a woman during the autopsy. Vampires are everywhere but this is the first who because he is cross eyed has reduced hypnotic powers. All the tales mix crime and horror and are told with a sly sense of humour that dares the reader to accept the disturbing detail. ‘Crazy Tales' will appeal to those who like crime plots served with literary expertise. Solana creates a strange world, one that today might have been imagined by Borges or Kafka, peopled with self-effacing, sometimes blasé but always dangerous oddballs not normally encountered in crime fiction. All the stories contain genuine surprises that lead to unpredictable endings. The characters reveal aspects of their personalities to make most gasp. In the caves, the prehistoric detective is obliged to compare the three victims that have been mysteriously killed with a rock. He notes several characteristics about the deceased including that none of the victims were immortal. Half the fun of following the two doped up grandmothers through their homicidal plan is the tortuous dilemma of deciding who is the most villainous. The mortician and the vampire who feature in separate stories are a lesson to us all in the dangers of obsession and even the generous in spirit would have to regard either of them as a little weird. But I, like others undoubtedly did, rooted for these poor misfits. Not that we did not have sympathy for the casualties. Solana knows how to make characters whatever their deeds sympathetic. This means more, though, than mere skill and technique. The tales may have many dark comic moments but they do not merely permit the reader to turn the pages with a wry smile. The characters that create mayhem in ‘Crazy Tales Of Blood And Guts' not only slaughter, scatter limbs and leave a lot of blood behind, they like the psychopath in the classic Edgar Allen Poe story, ‘The Black Cat', unwittingly reveal complex and contradictory personalities. They may be extreme but their common inability to understand themselves and their dark motives make them all too human. These are stories dominated by dark heroes and heroines who somehow combine a sense of propriety with savagery. They have a capacity for kindness and sympathy to those they like while being able to inflict vicious cruelty on others. ‘Crazy Tales' is not so crazy after all.' - Crime Chronicles
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  • Crazy Tales of Blood and GutsReviewTeresa Solana