Publishing year: 2014
I have started this book that takes place in my home town.
The prologue is a letter from someone called Francis Jameson. It is dated on April 17, 1752, and in the letter the man talks about works of art that a client of his, John Blackwood collects, and he expects to go to Jerez and collect some new canvases. I imagine that this implies illegal trading. The next chapter we get to know Jacinto Jiménez, the undersexton of the collegiate church that is now in process of being built. Jacinto sneaks into the chuch, intending to steal some of the wine for the holy communion. His earnings are meagre, and he has five children, so he uses this wine to get some substance in their bodies. Then while in the church, he hears voices, and when he hides, he sees four figures, and they are talking, I can guess, about the letter from the prologue. Jacinto is shocked, but he thinks he can take advantage of his knowledge, so it is hinted that he will blackmail these men in exchange of his silence. I have a bad feeling about this, and maybe his silence could be forever.
Then the main character in the novel is introduced D. Pedro de Alemán, who is a lawyer for the poor as the name of the novel shows. Pedro is not a saint, and we know that from the very first moment when we see he uses his position of power to get sexual favours from the poor women who come to him for help. This woman, Catalina, wants him to help her husband who is in jail for drunkenness. Pedro thinks that there must be something else as a man accused just of drunkenness wouldn’t be kept in custody for so many days. So when he goes to see Saturnino, he explains that he hit a magistrate when the man tried to steal his earnings. So he is accused not only of drunkenness, but also of assaulting a person of authority and owning a sharp weapon. Saturnino claims that he wasn’t drunk, he only hit the magistrate in defence, and the weapon they found was the knife he uses in his profession. Pedro de Alemán thinks that the man is innocent, and he decides he is going to do his best to get him out of jail and a possible sentence.
I like the beginning of the book. The most interesting point is that all the places that the book mentions are streets, squares, and other spots I am familiar with. So I can imagine them so well. The city is not the same as it was in the eighteenth century, but the streets are still there and the landmarks mentioned. I am already intrigued to see where the novel takes us.