Can a life, its dreams, its wounds, nostalgia and regrets be investigated as though it were a crime, using the voices of all those who remember it as the clues? This is the question to which Fernando Urtiaga, a young historian, must find an answer when in 1977 he receives the commission of telling the story of the enigmatic Ángel Bigas through the memories of the people who knew him.
The investigation will present Urtiaga with Bigas’ different faces – novelist, diplomat, international conspirator, spy, revolutionary, and arms trafficker – and he will set out on a search that has unexpected consequences. From Bilbao at the start of the 20th Century to literary Madrid and republican meetings, inter-war Warsaw, Mussolini’s fascist Rome, the Saint Petersburg of the final Tsars to the clubs and cabarets of Allied-occupied Constantinople. Some of the memories stretch back – taking both Urtiaga and the enthralled reader with them – to the cosmopolitan, shadowy Bucharest of the First World War to uncover an intense love story; a story that will reveal Bigas’ final face; the one with which he meets his death.
In his first novel, Fernando García de Cortázar recreates, piece by piece, a great mosaic of Spain and Europe: the decadence of a continent racked with wars and revolutions, nostalgia for lost splendour, and the strength of a love that overcomes all the obstacles that come its way during those war-torn years.