The Heart Tastes Bitter by Victor del Arbol. Translated by Lisa Dillman

1. First lines. 2. Published 2016 Scribe Publications 3. Car accident Image by Th G [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Publisher: Scribe Publications 2016 Also published as “Breathing Through the Wound” Originally published in Spanish in 2013 as “Respirar por la herida“. Genre: Mystery. Thriller. Setting: Madrid, Spain. Formats: Paperback; ebook; Audiobook.

The story:

The story revolves around two tragic events. Eduardo Quintana, a painter, lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. Years afterwards he is engaged by Gloria A Tagger to paint the portrait of Arthur Fernandez, who killed her son Ian when driving drunk. There are more than ten other characters who are connected in some way to either, or both, Eduardo and Gloria, and the story moves back and forth in time revealing each character’s back story and motivations.


“Speaking was a waste of time; breathing was inevitable – but words she could hold in. What she truly wanted was for someone to get her out of there – not her room, or the garden, or the clinic. Out of her head. For someone to tear her from her head, her body, her guts, and carry her off someplace where there was no Andrea, because she no longer had the desire nor the energy to keep being who she was, but also lacked the energy to stop.”

“Sometimes, people only weep their sorrows on the inside.”

My thoughts:

Highly recommended for anyone who likes an intricately plotted mystery with lots of twists and turns to keep the momentum of the story going. I had some trouble keeping track of the connections among the characters, but the effort was worth it for the “Aha” moments when I realised how particular connections affected the way the plot developed.

Book reviews:
  • Crime Review: “A plot so convoluted and so effectively brought to fruition calls for considerable admiration, and brings a relief of tension as the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. The suspense built up through the first half of the book does, however, call for some patience on the part of the reader, who has to cope with a very large cast of persons connected to the leading players in the drama.”
Other editions:

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