This is the third, and so far last, instalment in the series about Pedro de Alemán y Camacho, and it is sad that I will have to wait for the author to publish the next book.
In the first chapter we are introduced to Dionisia Menéndez, who returns to her house after finishing work in the house of a lord, those called 24. We know that her husband beats her when he is drunk, and when she finds the house empty, she is not surprised as her husband usually drinks away the little money he earns. While she prepares a chamomile tea, she hears some loud steps, and when she realises it is not her husband, she feels scared. Then she sees the outline of a figure, and before she knows what is happening, the man unsheathes his sword and kills her. We also learn that he leaves some kind of coin, which I imagine is important because of the title of the novel. The narrator then tells us that after the poor woman dies, the man does terrible things to her body.
Then the book introduces a new character. Antonio Galera is a gilder and is some kind of gentleman of the council. We see him flee as soon as he realises that the guard is after him. Something happened with Evangelina González, his maid. Then he decides to take sanctuary in St Miguel, but the guards are ordered to keep watch outside every door. When the parish priest talks to Antonio, he advises him to take a lawyer, and shortly afterwards they send one of the altar boys to call Pedro de Alemán.
When Pedro gets to the church, he instructs Antonio Galera to tell him the reason why the guards are after him. Antonio Galera describes what happened the night before. Evangelina, his maid, came to find him in his workshop, and then to his shock she threw herself to his arms and started touching and trying to kiss him. She even tore away her clothes, and when Antonio turned her down, the woman started scratching her skin, swearing she would report him to the guards for rape if he didn’t promise to marry her. Antonio managed to calm her down, but then the next day he knew that the woman had done as she had threatened to do when he didn’t find her in her room.
Pedro is not sure whether to believe him or not. The tale is weird indeed, but he tells him that he would talk to the judge and arrange for him to get house arrest. That is what he gets to do. When he returns home and talks to Adela, Pedro confides in her, telling her that this case gives him some bad feeling. Adela then asks him to leave the case because she has the feeling this case won’t be good for him. She even begs him to reconsider, but Pedro is stubborn and wants to do what he considers his duty.
A few days later Pedro is summoned by the new prosecutor, D Bernardo. The prosecutor asks him about the case of Dionisia Menéndez. Her husband has been arrested and charged, and as the lawyer of the poor, Pedro will have to be in charge of his defence. What the prosecutor suggests is a dealing; Pedro’s client, Francisco Porrúa, will confess to the crime, and the court will agree not to desecrate his body after his death sentence. Pedro thinks that what D Bernardo suggests is outrageous, and he states that he can’t let Francisco Porrúa be executed without fighting for his innocence. I also find this deal the prosecutor puts forward quite strange, and I wonder if this man is protecting the real culprit.
Interesting start. We have two cases, and I am agog with curiosity!!!