This is the 1995 noir on which the new Almodovar film 'The Skin I Live In' is based, a review of which will follow shortly. The
book is tautly written (as with other non-English novels, the translator is to be congratulated) and developed in an unusual way. A celebrated plastic surgeon keeps his mistress captive and does take her out from time to time either to social functions where some consider her to be his second wife or to less reputable surroundings where he effectivelt pimps her out to punish her. why he does the latter is not explained but he does appear to be increasingly less happy with doing this. It turns out as the book develops that he has a daughter who is unbalanced to the extent that he finally agrees to give up the
regular visits he has been making. After the initial development, the focus switches to a petty crook with limited intelligence who has killed a policeman, having previously been looked after by his best friend who vanished some time back. While holed up, he sees a programme on TV featuring the plastic surgeon and decides that the wayout of his dilemma is to get a new face by forcing the surgeon to give him one. He watches him and concocts a scenario where he captures the mistress and uses the threat of her death to get the surgeon to comply. Naturally, the latter easily outwits him which leads to the
shocking denouement. The ending does rely on a hard to accept co-incidence but, provided this is accepted as possible, it
does not detract from the book. The standard noir formula does require a femme fatale which this book does not really have
so calling the book a noir is a misnomer - it is a tale of obsession and revenge.