“I was born to revolutionize hell.

Autumn colchicum is a small autumnal plant, beautiful in appearance, almost harmless, similar to saffron, with the only downside being that it is poisonous. Confusing the two plants is very easy, and if you are not ready to notice the mistake, the risk is high. This is a bit what happened to us when we read this book.

Enraptured by an intriguing incipit, we are immediately immersed in the story with the discovery of a nameless and faceless body, but with a very particular tattoo, returned from the sea along the Spanish coast. Hence the involvement of the Galician investigator Pepe Carvalho, hired by a shady character, Ramon, to discover the identity of the stranger. An apparently simple task but it will hide a much bigger story than the protagonists themselves.

Hero-antihero, the character of Pepe is on the border between the surreal and the bizarre, whether he is in Barcelona or in the Netherlands (where his investigations will take him). Easy to fight physically, ex-CIA agent, ex-communist, while appreciating his investigative ability, there was something missing to be able to fall in love with Pepe. Something indefinite, which perhaps you too will be able to identify once you have finished reading, so much so that we can say that this is not the best of the author’s books in which Carvalho appears.

As for the story itself, we may have preferred some passages differently, they had the appearance of saffron and then revealed themselves to be Colchian in autumn, like the walk with the two Spanish workers in Holland, where perhaps with greater sagacity we could have gone within much broader political-social problems, and not just mentioned or, worse still, not addressed. The same goes for the dialogues, but as we always say, it’s a matter of taste.

A light read, which can be enjoyed in a lazy day at the seaside, without any particular worries, suitable for all age groups.


Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Tatuaggio, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2008

Original edition: Tatuaje, Planeta, 1974

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