elisenda domènech, serious crime unit, girona

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Carrer Pla i Cargol was a narrow street in a city of narrow streets.
Elisenda Domènech looked at it now.
It had little to mark it out from many of the tiny alleyways around it, she thought. Worn cobbles stretched from the smartly renovated building in the left to the series of smaller, rougher houses on the right, still to be regentrified. On the left, a smart coat of paint on narrow blue balconies and old stone buffed and polished to a new glory. To the right, rusted iron balconies in tumbling stone. One house already under the care of a sympathetic builder, others to follow. Just like so many of the streets in the old city.
Except for the body of the man swinging below one of the ancient windows. That was different, Elisenda decided. She looked back along the street to the crowd gathering on Carrer Ciutadans and back up to the figure above. His feet two meters above her upturned face, his arms tied above his head to a rope leading out of the glassless window, his nose gone. Cut off. Blood dried around his mouth like a once-fashionable goatee beard and down the front of his shirt and trousers, no longer dripping into the congealed and rusted pool on the stones below.
Six members of the Police Científica were still looking for this nose.

from: City of Good Death

An Obsessed Woman Driven by Herself

Elisenda became head of the experimental Serious Crime Unit and since then there is pressure on her and her team. In Girona suddenly corpses pile up, each of them killed in some strange way – and it takes quite a while until Elisenda and her team realize what’s going on and which motives lead the evildoer.

Her team is rather small, however, filled with intelligent and motivated colleagues who even risk their lives to solve crimes. Also Elisenda is often involved when it turns suddenly violent. Evildoers don’t know any limits – at least not in Girona which is more a backwater area in Catalonia especially compared with Barcelona.

The next cases are also sinister and complex. All is somehow related to Girona and its history, to Catalonia and its history … and both are deeply trapped in its efforts to gain independence. The cases, especially the first murder series, often stir up a vital public interest leading to emotional outbreaks almost always directed towards the police in general resp. Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalonian police force. It’s understandable: if a murderer is in action and the police seems to be unable to stop him then people become scared and self-administered justice isn’t far. Especially in Girona where superstition and religions reign a lot of people, scary evildoers hiding their motives amid traditional legends and public apprehension often have a field day.

Furthermore never underestimate the influence of families and family bonds as well as business bonds. Also the politicians are busy to apply pressure on the police on top who likes to pass the pressure through to the basis i. e. the Serious Crime Unit. Elisenda isn’t happy with the actions of her superiors as well as prosecution or examining magistrates. In addition Elisenda isn’t happy with some of her colleagues from other departments who like to interfere in order to destroy the Serious Crime Unit. From their point of view this team is a waste because it deals with cases otherwise would be their cases resp. the glory coming with solving the crime would also be theirs and propel their career.

So Elisenda is under pressure and struggles uphill to save her job and her reputation. Her cases are dodgy, but Elisenda sticks to her mission to solve the cases, always.

However, there is another Elisenda … She lived once in Barcelona where she studied and later decided to join the police force. When at the university she got married and there was a baby girl, Lina. In short: the marriage broke down, Lina stayed with Elisenda although there was joint child custody … Five years ago when Lina was six years old her ex-husband flew with Lina to Mallorca for a summer holiday. It was his own small plane. The plane and its passengers vanished into thin air. There seemed to be a storm, but nothing was found, no corpses, no debris of the plane, nothing.

Elisenda is devastated. She sees images of her daughter, she sings with her, speaks with her. Her grief is immeasurable. In the morning Elisenda starts running miles over miles until she is exhausted. She wolves down some food. There is no new partner in her life. When her sister gets a baby she cannot stand seeing the baby. All day long Lina is in her mind. She cannot mourn and forget her Lina.

Of course this won’t end fine. Elisenda refuses any psychological treatment, however, finally she gets suspended because her strange behavior has its impact on her professional life. Therefore she is forced to start a talking therapy. Elisenda is furious about it and all she wants is returning into her life as an investigator. Then she realizes that she needs help and all gets better, but slowly.

The cases are interesting and intricate. Each novel has its thrill and the slow approach of the Serious Crime Unit to solving the cases with all trials and tribulations as well as the machinations of the collegues and the byplays of the private life create a captivating reading adventure. Not to forget the background of Girona and its history, its Old Town, its people that create an unique atmosphere you feel in each novel.

Elisenda’s private psychic trauma … at the end of the third novel there is a hint what might have happened high over the Mediterranean Sea.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare