Maria Dolz sits in the same Madrid cafe every morning and watches an attractive couple, clearly in love, have breakfast there every day. The routine gives her pleasure and some kind of small daily mooring. One day the couple, Luisa and Miguel Deverne, are no longer there and Maria discovers that the gruesome newspaper photo of the fatally stabbed businessman on the pavement, lying in a pool of blood, is none other than Miguel. She learns that he has been killed by a mentally ill, homeless man, Vazquez Canella, who had got it into his head, as one story went, that Deverne was responsible for Canella’s daughters’ involvement in an international prostitution ring. Several months later, Maria sees Luisa come in to the cafe with her children and goes up to her to offer her condolences. And in Luisa’s home that same day she meets the ‘virile and handsome’ Juan Diaz-Varela, the dead man’s best friend, now dedicated to helping his widow come to terms with her loss and assist her in the process of recovery.
It is at this point that any sensible reviewer has to stop talking about elements of the plot, leaving readers to discover the fiendish corkscrew turns of the narrative. Javier Marias’s latest novel, The Infatuations, returns us to the territory of his second and third works of fiction, A Heart So White and Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me: heterosexual desire; deception and betrayal; the provisional nature of appearances, indeed, of truth; the morality, or otherwise, of love.