Cover Image: Red Queen

Red Queen

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Antonia Scott does not like to be bothered.  When she hears footsteps coming up her attic stairs, she knows, just knows, that someone is coming for her.  But why? She's never been a police officer. She's never worn a badge or carried a weapon. She's never been a lawyer or a judge.  But Antonia Scott has solved dozens of crimes. She has a gifted forensic mind, and her ability to reconstruct crimes and solve baffling murders is legendary. But she's been a recluse since a personal tragedy struck.
The footsteps coming to get Antonia belong to Jon Gutierrez, a good but currently disgraced cop who got caught planting evidence. Officially he's removed from duty, but he's now working for a secret organization that works in the shadows to solve some of the most violent crimes in the EU. Jon's first task is to convince Antonia to work with him. That might be the easy part.

The pair will then be asked to solve a series of ritualistic killings (which started with the discovery of a teenage boy of a wealthy family drained of every last ounce of blood). The high-profile daughter of one of the richest men in Spain has been kidnapped and there's reason to believe she may be next for the ritual murder.  Her last, best hope of being found is Antonia and Jon.

I've read a fair amount of dark mysteries/thrillers from Scandinavian authors, but I've read virtually nothing translated from the rest of the EU - here, specifically, Spain. 

Author Juan Gómez-Jurado does a really nice job of setting up our characters at the start of the book while still keeping us interested the larger story. It does feel as though we spend a fair amount of time on the two main characters - getting some background on them and watching them get familiar with one another - as though Gómez-Jurado is laying the foundation for a series of books.

A book (and series) like this is generally driven by the characters and in Jon and Antonia we have two very different but compatible (mostly compatible because they have the same goal) protagonists.  Antonia can 'see' behind the crimes and Jon has the ability to follow her lead and finish the task. Both have distinct personalities, which on the surface don't appear to mesh well but of course will mostly work quite well ('mostly' because we'll need something to keep them both on edge a bit).

I really enjoyed Antonia's trait of knowing obscure foreign words - words which she uses to perfectly describe a situation or scene ("Mångata. In Swedish, this is the reflection the moon makes as it traces a path across the water.").

This is a detective thriller, and Antonia and Jon are called to solve something pretty horrific. To that end, this is NOT a cozy mystery. In fact this would be the exact opposite.  It is dark and brutal and gruesome. We do get the POV of the captive and her constant fears at what, worse, is yet to come.

Looking for a good book?  If you like dark detective/thrillers, be sure to get in here on book #1 of a series out of Spain, Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Truly a fantastic story and great characters - the Red queen is summoned to find a missing woman before it is to late - her reluctant partner a disgraced cop, must keep an eye on the brilliant forensic mind. Set in Bilbao it is people’s with dark interesting characters and many plot twists - can’t wait for the sequel
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Red Queen is tough for me to review coherently. I went from loving it to being bogged by all the emotionally traumatized characters and back to loving it. And while it’s various pieces are well-written, somehow the pieces don’t really hang together and flow well. In the end, I pretty much forgave the rough spots and am looking forward to the promised sequel. The two MCs are intriguing individuals and  will make a compelling team going forward.
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Antonia has a talent in forensic cases, and she is known to crack some of the most puzzling cases. An incident occurs and she suddenly shuts herself away from the world, eventually giving up her career. Jon is a police officer who has found himself in trouble at work, he's suspended and implicated in another case. He has a chance to salvage his career when he is given a new case. The predator is targeting children of wealthy families, there has already been a murder and now a kidnapping. Jon needs to get Antonia out of retirement and help solve this case. She is what this case desperately needs. But, convincing her to come out of retirement is going to be harder. This story has a breathtaking plot, with well written characters and it makes for a great thriller story.

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and St, Martin's Press for this ARC, I received an advance copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Where has this series been?  Can't believe it was not translated earlier and that it hasn't become a Netflix etc phenom.
  I really enjoyed this book!  Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the chance to read and review.  
This is first in series with protagonists Antonia Scott and Jon Gutierrez.  Antonia is a genius who was recruited to the Red Queen project in Europe to solve very challenging crime mysteries.  Gutierrez is a Basque cop , currently with his career in tatters who is recruited to work with Antonia on a specific case.  Both are amazing characters and I enjoyed their stories very much.  
The plot is clever and I could not put this book down.  So many plot twists.   It was gruesome at times would be my trigger warning.  
I very much enjoyed the author's style.  Dialogue was particularly well done. 
One facet I really found fun was Antonia commenting on words in other languages what have no counterpart in English/Spanish.  For instance the word mangata- swedish for a road-like reflection of the moon on the water.  I began to really look for and focus on this and it greatly added to my enjoyment of the read.  
Please, please translate and publish the rest of the series ASAP!!!
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Overall, I liked this book. The writing style was a nice change from American authors. There were some things that didn't flow for me overall, but it seems they will be resolved in a sequel. I will definitely read the sequel given an opportunity here on NetGalley!
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I highly recommend this psychological thriller. I was hooked from the first page. Antonia Scott, a brilliant crime solver and her unlikely partner Jon Guittierez race to save a kidnapped heiress while using clues left at another macabre killing.
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Had to DNF. The writing was just too juvenile or maybe it was the translation. I don’t know which but I absolutely cannot finish it. Disappointment because the blurb sounded interesting. Can’t really understand why this book got so many five star reviews. Maybe it is just me. But I don’t think so.
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One of the best books I’ve read in 2022. It has echoes of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but in my opinion those comparisons are inaccurate. Gomez-Jurado is, firstly, MUCH funnier. The protagonists in Red Queen are nuanced and complex in a way that made me want to improve my Spanish so I can read the rest of the books immediately.
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An absolutely fantastic addition to the canon of detective fiction!

As the novel (translated from the Spanish)  opens, we witness the meeting between its two main characters:  Antonia Scott, who possesses a brilliant mind well suited to processing facts and analyzing crime scenes but who has shut herself off from the world, and Jon Gutierrez, a policeman from Bilbao who is on the verge of not just losing his job but being prosecuted for police misconduct.  Gutierrez has been approached by Mentor, representing a shadowy intelligence group, and is tasked with getting Antonia to leave her apartment and delivering her to a specific location.  If he can do so, Mentor’s group can make all of Gutierrez’s problems disappear.
There is much we do not know as the story begins.  What talents does Antonia have, and how did she get them?  What toll does exercising them take on her, physically and mentally?  And perhaps most important, what happened in the recent past that has left her in a precarious state and her husband in a coma?  In bringing Antonia back into the world, what has Gutierrez done to her?  And what has he done to himself, because it soon becomes apparent that he is not going to be allowed to abandon Antonia and just slip back into his old life. Someone is kidnapping the children of very wealthy members of the business world.  Are the cases connected and, if so, who is behind them?  And when the first victim is killed, can Antonia discover the connections and motivations driving the killer before another victim dies?
Two talented but damaged people, an intelligence group that operated best behind the scenes to solve crimes that the mainstream law enforcement agencies can’t even identify, and a sociopath bent on revenge are the ingredients of a first-rate story.  I couldn’t put it down once I began, and was thrilled to see that there are more in the series.  If you love thrillers, detective stories, unique characters, and nuanced plotting, Red Queen is for you.  Carve out the time and get reading, you won’t regret it!  Thanks to St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the advanced reader’s copy.
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Tantalizing tale of a troubled woman of extremely high intelligence and a policeman who is facing disgrace and loss of his career, who team up in an original variation on the kidnap/hostage theme.,  Set in Madrid with good local color.  Excellent, smooth reading translation.
While the book comes to a compete and satisfying ending, the epilogue sets up a tickler for more to come.
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Thanks to Minotaur Books and Netgalley for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I first was introduced to this book through a Minotaur 7 novel sampler and loved it so much that I requested a copy.  This is a humorous mystery/suspense novel by a Spanish author and is based in Madrid, which I loved.

Antonia and Jon are detectives and they are thrown together under unusual circumstances.  Jon has unsuccessfully set up a drug dealer which was broadcast all over social media.  He is facing charges when he is approached by a "fixer" that can make the charges go away if he helps with another situation...enter Antonia, who is perhaps one of the most brilliant people in the world with a mind that processes data and facts at supersonic speeds. She can reason through facts and come to extraordinary conclusions that only a supercomputer could. But, then, that’s only when her mind is clear and focused. Currently Antonia is a catatonic wreck, destroyed by her husband’s coma, unable to mother her son and unable to work.  Once Jon gets Antonia to the crime scene as instructed, the story takes off.

Their working relationship quickly becomes an oddly matched partnership.  The crime is a teenager is kidnapped and ritualistically killed.  His uber wealthy and powerful family will not allow for any information to be leaked in the public.  But this murder is just the start. A high-ranking executive and daughter of one of the richest men in Spain is kidnapped, a crime which is tied to the previous murder.  Now for the crimes to be quickly and quietly solved.

This is a quick, fast paced read that I highly recommend!
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I just finished Juan Gómez-Jurado’s astounding new thriller, #RedQueen, and want to write this review before my pulse goes back to normal. The book, which pits one of the world’s smartest people against one of the world’s evilest moves at such a breakneck speed I think I’m feeling some whiplash. Before I’ve had the chance to verify Gómez-Jurado dotted all his i’s and crossed all his t’s, let me say that is irrelevant. One reads #RedQueen for its unrelenting plotting exuberance. From start to finish this novel never lets up in its quest of good vs. evil. So strap yourselves in your favorite reading chair and devour the world of #RedQueen. You won’t be sorry. There - now I can catch my breath. Happy Reading !
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Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado is a tour de force. It will inevitably be on a lot of year-end "Best of..." lists. It will be well deserved. It is a really riveting read. The plot is exquisitely executed by Gómez-Jurado. It is the very definition of an exhilarating thriller. Antonia Scott bursts on the literary scene like a supernova. She is truly one of the most fascinating characters created in any genre. By the end of the book, you'll be eagerly anticipating her next adventure with Jon Gutierrez. European writers have given us some classic characters like Fabian Risk and Holger Munch & Mia Kruger in recent years. This duo joins them as the best of the best. This is one of the most extraordinary series debuts I have ever been fortunate enough to read. Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, & NetGalley for the advance reading copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This was just too slow for me. I enjoy many Spanish books and had high hopes, but it just seemed too dark. The writing was not strong enough to keep me going. I tried reading it three times and never got past 20%. I was hopin for another "Shadow of the Wind", but this just wasn't it.
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Antonia Scott and Jon Guttierez are  the leads in Red Queen, a Spanish novel now translated into English. Written by Juan Gómez-Jurado., a well-known successful Spanish writer., the novel has moments of great action. Particularly well written is the scene where Jon enters an old tunnel, attempting to find the kidnappers that he and Scott have been pursuing.
The novel does not start well. At least for me, as I gave up on it at the quarter mark. Once it had set a while I gave it another try, finishing it. I loved the action, but in between it often dragged. Some of the characters are flat. Perhaps the author was trying to do too much. 3.5 stars
It will be interesting to read the sequel which is sure to follow
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.
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First off, thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books/St Martins Publishing for this amazing ARC.

Antonia Scott has suicide constantly on her mind and lives in an apartment with no furniture. Her neighbours bring meals to her, knowing she won’t eat, otherwise. Enter Jon Gutierrez, a cop who has been suspended without pay for REALLY messing up a case. To lessen his punishment he’s been sent by The Mentor to get Antonia to go for a car ride. She refuses. Antonia doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to but Jon pleads his case. Eventually they’re off on a clandestine adventure and the suspense mounts as they search for a killer and a kidnapper.
I loved this book from page one. It kept me on the edge of my seat, pushing me to read more and more. This was a true thriller/suspense with twists and turns, action packed. Juan Gomez Jurado has written an incredibly entertaining book. You feel you’re right on the streets of Madrid with the characters. 
 One can only hope the next two books in this trilogy, yes, there are two others, will be translated from Spanish to English in the very near future. I can hardly wait!
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I liked this book very much, which surprised me ;) It has a slow, measured pace, and while I don't have to have every chapter in a thriller end in a car chase, the pacing surprised me. It was, however, exactly right for the story. I don't feel as if too much or too little was told. Despite my lack of any knowledge of Spain, I could follow along with wher they were and what their surroundings might have looked like. I liked both characters very much, feel that there may be more to reveal in coming books, and look forward to it.
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An ultimate crime prevention premise must feature a genius and someone to handle them. In other words, it’s your very basic odd/oddly unmatched pair of detectives sort of thing. It’s been done and it’s been done and I can’t honestly tell you that Red Queen brings something new to either the genre of that very particular set up.
In fact, it’s quite underwhelming as far as those things go. Because, of course, you got to get your Sherlock right. Meaning the oddball has to be originally compellingly odd and Antonia Scott is garden variety odd at best.
She’s meant to be a genius, a person with the highest IQ out there. And of course, she’s traumatized, because trauma forges the best character traits. Though maybe not in her case so much; in her case, it just made her into an emotionally stunted shut-in with a crappy diet. And then she gets dragged out once again into the field to track down a kidnapper/killer. And then man to drag her out is a jumbo-sized (and allegedly mostly muscle) police detective who veered off the blue path to follow his morals and the only way to get out of the doodoo he’s in now is by working with Antonia.
And so, the two of them chase after their mystery fiend all over Madrid. Which is nice locale wise and was one of the main things that attracted me to this novel in the first place.
So, score for international reading. 
And objectively, the book was plenty entertaining and perfectly decently written. Just…nothing special. Much like its protagonist. Which is frustrating because  she's meant to be exceptional and, presumably, exceptionally interesting. Plus, the book is quite bulky at something like 400 pages. Certainly not enough here to draw interest for the entire trilogy.
It’s sort of like an inferior version of Kill The Father (Colomba Casselli trilogy) by Sandrone Dazieri. So if you want to read a genius and detective team solve crimes books done right, go for those.
Otherwise, this was fine, passed the time, some fun was had. Thanks Netgalley.
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Red Queen by Juan Gomez-Jurado is one of those novels when certain aspects of the novel are disclosed they could be considered story spoilers, therefore, the less known beforehand, the better. Red Queen is also the first novel of a trilogy, with Red Queen being the first to be translated into English.

Red Queen opens with the introduction of Antonia Scott. Scott is a tiny and tough eccentric person living in a sparsely furnished apartment and possesses a mind with unique abilities. As the novel opens, Scott is in the middle of an exactly three-minute ritual of the meditative contemplation of suicide when she realizes someone is coming up the stairs that lead to her apartment. Scott strongly desires no visitors, especially when interrupted during this ritual she conducts to maintain her sanity and to quiet and control her mind.

The person creeping up the stairs is Madrid, Spain police detective Joe Gutierrez. Gutierrez is overweight, but strong, openly gay, and currently on suspension while possibly facing jail time for an act of goodwill misconduct. Previously, Gutierrez had been contacted by a man coined Mentor and was persuaded to fetch Scott upon the promise of help with his misconduct issue. Mentor informed Gutierrez, that if successful in persuading Scott to come along with him and meet Mentor at another location, he would be able to have Gutierrez reinstated and his misconduct problem disappear as if it never even happened.

With much difficulty, Gutierrez is able to collect the tight-lipped and socially walled-off Scott and the two then meet Mentor outside a home in an area of the city described by Gutierrez as a “VIP zone within a VIP zone.”

Inside the luxurious home of a wealthy and highly influential mother, they are then shown the body of a young man murdered in a manner with apparent ritualistic undertones.

With the mother being unusually coy and uncooperative, Mentor then tasks Gutierrez and Scott to conduct their own secretive investigation alongside of the authorities. Mentor also warns the two to be careful of running afoul of the ambitious lead investigator who clearly wants nothing to do with the two, which they soon learn includes him actively dismissing any findings the two may make.

Before long, a second heinous crime occurs with just as bizarre circumstances, leading investigators to ponder the motive behind these crimes, while at the same time slowly starting to realize some things may not be what they seem to be.

As the story moves forward, Gomez-Jurado slowly reveals more and more about the two main characters, which allows the reader to develop a favorable kinship toward a pair of opposites that appear to mix as well as oil and water, but who also are slowly developing a respectful relationship of admiration and respect for each other.

Red Queen then evolves into a criminal investigation race against time where the author continues to build a complex story with different plot threads. Gomez-Jurado also increases the tension with an additional layer of destructive internecine rivalry between the two investigative groups which may hamper the identification and apprehension of the suspect.

While the story may seem familiar in some aspects, Gomez-Jurado’s introduction of Scott, Gutierrez, and Mentor allows the novel to appear fresh and appealing to those that enjoy interesting characters and stories that constantly move forward and tales that end in unexpected ways.

Red Queen has an anticipated US release date of March 2023.

This review was originally published at MysteryandSuspense.com.
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