Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novel, The Shadow of the Wind, is an international bestseller, and was recommended to me by several people. Furthermore, it also has the dubious honour of having been in Richard and Judy's book club, which of course makes it a must read!
Set in Barcelona shortly after the Second World War, it tells the story of Daniel, the teenage son of a bookseller, and his quest to unearth the history behind a mysterious book - also called the Shadow of the Wind - and its now-deceased author, Julian Carax.
It's hard not to like this book. It's an old fashioned mystery story, with goodies, baddies, a bit of violence, a bit of sex, lots of rain and plenty of dark alleys and creaky old houses. There's suspense by the bucketload and, despite it being quite a long book, I never once got bored.
Of course it is rather unrealistic - our hero Daniel frequently exhibits maturity beyond his tender years, before acting correctly for his age a few pages later. But such things have never stood in the way of a good yarn and, in my opinion, they never should do. Though I wonder whether the story appeals more to boys than girls? Djanira read the book before me, and enjoyed it; but Daniel tells his story in the first person, and thus the entire book is seen very much through a boy's eyes.
Anyway I thoroughly recommend it - although I must admit I'm rather pleased to have finished it. I have recently taken delivery of three more Iain M. Banks books, so now it's back to the Sci-Fi for a while...