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Afternoon is a lighthearted mystery about a missing person and sundry other
kidnappings set in Spain. By most standard, it is your average "cozy"
mystery. It has no blood, no graphic
violence, no sex, but it does have plenty of excitement, strange characters,
giggles and guffaws.
Afternoon: A Cassandra Reilly Mystery by Barbara Wilson is set in
Barcelona, Spain. As the novel opens Cassandra Reilly, a 40ish translator of
Spanish literature, is sitting her frigid London flat translating a surreal
Latin American novel and dreaming of warmer climes when she receives a call
from Frankie Stevens. Frankie is a friend of a friend, who is leaving for Spain
to try and find her free-spirited husband who supposedly is in Barcelona.
Frankie is richer than rich and is too consumed with her looks to be bothered
by learning the basics of tourist Spanish, so she see no problem with renting
a personal translator to accompany her. Cassandra eager to defrost jumps at the
opportunity even though she has learned that such assignments are seldom what
they first appear to be. Thus Cassandra is not the least bit surprised when
during their first morning in Barcelona, Frankies story begins to change along
with Cassandras job description. To say more would be to ruin the surprises in
this roller coaster ride through the many twists and turns that make up this
mystery, but let me give you a clue, nothing and no one in this mystery is
quite who s/he appears to be.
Cassandra Reilly is a world
traveler, professional translator, and amateur sleuth. Shes been everywhere
and done it all. She is sharp, witty and wise cracking. She is very likable.
Frankie, Ben, Hamilton, and April Schauers (I kid you not!) are another story.
They are such an odd lot that not only do they deserve each other, but they
could fund an entire counseling practice with their personal quirks and
interpersonal squabbles. Ana, a creator of childrens playhouses and one of
Cassandras many love interests, is sweet, but she wants Cassandra to settle
down and have a baby. Carmen, the fiery hairdresser and another of Cassandras
love interest, is hot-to-trot, but feels she must play the good Catholic girl
since she is living with her mother. And April, foot therapist and Cassandra
latest love interest, is uninterested in Cassandras advances and has our
translator ponder whether foot massages can really replace sex? As for the Gaudi of the title, Antonio Gaudi
is an actual historic person. He was a Spanish modernist architect and his
architectural creations, including Le Pedrera and the Park Guell are real and
Barbara Wilson wrote Gaudi Afternoon in 1990 and the book
reflects an era before coming out was the vogue. Homosexual sexual activities
occur off-screen or not at all. The issues of cross-dressing and transgender
identity bending are not seriously portrayed, but rather are used as comical
vehicles. While her mystery is humorous, the humor is often at the expense of
the transsexuals and crossing dressers. Some readers may take offensive at the
humor and should be forewarned.
Barbara Wilson is a feminist
lesbian author and the founder of Seal Press. Wilson grew up in California, but
spent many years traveling. Her fiction writing includes the stand alone
novels, Murder in the Collective
(1984), Sisters of the Road (1986),
and The Dog Collar Murders (1989),
two mystery series, Cassandra Reilly Mysteries - The Death of a Much-Travelled Woman: And Other Adventures with
Cassandra Reilly (1988), Gaudi
Afternoon (1991), and Trouble in
Transylvania (1993), and Brenda Midnight Mysteries: Death Brims Over (1997), Accessory
to Murder (1998), and Death Flips its
Lid (1998). Her Blue Windows: A
Christian Science Childhood (1998) was nominated for the PEN West AWARD for
Creative Nonfiction and won the Lambda Literary Award. She currently lives in
Gaudi Afternoon: A Cassandra Reilly Mystery
by Barbara Wilson is a fun read and a welcome addition to the lesbian
literature genre. I hope that Wilson gets back to writing more installments in
this madcap series. I recommend it.
© 2002 Su Terry
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral
Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested
in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area
of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian
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