Salem’s New Police Novel Features Spain’s King as Character
MADRID – Spanish-Argentine writer Carlos Salem makes Spain’s King Juan Carlos I into “a luxury secondary character” in his latest book, presented Monday in Madrid, a “wild and tender” police novel that begins with the disappearance of the king and which he wrote, he said, with no wish to provoke anyone.
“I’m not creating a scandal,” Salem, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1959, said at the presentation of his book, “Pero Sigo Siendo el Rey” (But I’m Still the King), where he explained that his goal was to take a real celebrity and “put him in a work of fiction.”
The part that particularly interested him was the “lost childhood” of “that 10-year-old boy whose family decides his future and his future changes forever.”
The third novel by Salem, published by Salto de Pagina, begins with the mysterious disappearance of Juan Carlos I who leaves only a brief note behind: “I’m going to look for the little boy. I’ll be back when I find him. Or not. Merry Christmas.”
To find the king, the interior minister plays his one remaining card – Jose Maria Arregui, a detective who is “functional in society but disfunctional in his own life,” the author, who has lived in Spain for more than 20 years and also works in other literary forms such as poetry and short stories, told Efe.
The detective, quick-fisted and a devotee of disguises, previously appeared in the 2008 Salem novel, “Matar y Guardar la Ropa” (Kill and Put Away the Clothes), in which, while still a cop, he saves the Spanish monarch and because of that obtains “a certain aura of royal protection that annoys him.”
And so, when the author tried to find a case to kick off “Arregui’s adventures,” about which, he said, he will write at least two more novels, he came to the conclusion that the best option was to continue the story where it left off.
“If he saved the king, now he can do it again. Or not. Or the king saves him,” he said.
After finding him, detective and monarch have to flee from a powerful plot to kidnap or kill the king.
In their escape, a kind of “road movie,” they experience some crazy times, such as donning disguises and taking part in a demonstration in favor of the republic, or meeting odd characters like the musician called Luis Cabo who won fame recording pop versions of the classics and who is searching for a lost symphony.
Throughout the story, the author believes, “a symbiosis” is forged between the two characters.
Salem, who in his first novel revived Carlos Gardel and in the second created a character resembling Judge Baltasar Garzon, said that he will nurture the inclination to make “little winks at reality” in his future works, though he has still not revealed which new characters interest him.
For now, he plans to send a copy of his latest novel to the king and is convinced that “if it gets to him, he’s sure to laugh.”