Book talk: Spain inspires novelist Rabb to complete trilogy

Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:42am EDT
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By Martin Roberts

GIJON, Spain (Reuters Life!) - U.S. novelist Jonathan Rabb chose the Spanish Civil War to round off a trilogy of novels in which the turbulent interwar years of the 20th century have buffeted Berlin detective Nikolai Hoffner.

Rabb's new novel does not have a title yet as he only delivered the manuscript to his publisher two weeks ago, but the plot is well defined.

In this novel, Hoffner arrives in Barcelona in 1936, shortly after a military uprising against the Spanish government. He makes his way over two weeks to Badajoz in western Spain and realizes that an all-out and bloody civil war is under way.

The first novel in the series, "Rosa," Hoffner investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg in 1919, whose body did not turn up until four months after her murder.

In the second book, "Light and Shadow," Hoffner teams up with legendary film director Fritz Lang to investigate a murder which delves into a Berlin where talking films are revolutionizing entertainment but Hitler's brownshirts are also making inroads.

Rabb spoke to Reuters about his forthcoming novel on the sidelines of the annual Semana Negra book festival in northern Spain.

Q: You decided to set the third volume of your trilogy in Spain at the beginning of the Civil War. Why?

A: I needed to take Hoffner out of Berlin. It's 1936, he's a half Jew, it's a year after the (racist) Nuremburg laws have gone into effect. He no longer fits into Berlin. This is a man who was 45 in 1919, he's now 63.   Continued...