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Cartagena aka The Gardener Is Gone


Full English translation available

From the prize-winning author of Blackberry Shoot and The Stone Maples, comes a mesmerizing tale of unwanted love, unperformed vengeance and myths coming alive.

The action unfolds on the rocky coast in the northern Italy, set in the beautiful Briatico hotel – a snow-white manor turned a private nursing pansion.

Petra, a law student, arrives to Briatico from Rome as a nurse, set on her own investigation of the ruthless murder of her brother. The local police inspector is inclined to assign the murder to the result of a trivial ruffle among young men from the village, but Petra knows – the killer is one from the hotel staff. Petra is not the only one in the Briatico hotel who hides behind a false identity.

An Englishman playing the piano in the hotel’s lounge lies not only about his real occupation, but also about his nationality. A writer, who has lost his ability to write or sustain a proper relationship, he looks for traces of his lost love. His girlfriend mysteriously disappeared years ago in the premises of the manor, leaving a blazing chapel behind…and a heartbroken Marcus, who has never recovered from what he sees as a betrayal of his love.

There is a hotel guest, who claims to be a captain, trading a false beard and boasting numerous stories of his fake sea adventures. A heir, deprived of the manor, he wants a pay-off for what belongs to him by birthright.

Finally, there’s a killer who turns part a comedy of errors, part a blood-curdling crime drama, performed against the strikingly beautiful setting of the Briatico hotel, into an antique tragedy.

Torn by passions, haunted by murky secrets of the past, these different people are drawn to Briatico by fate’s invisible threads, seeking vengeance and truth they will want to believe. Eltang brilliantly weaves an intricate web of dramatic turns and shocking riddles, tossing ever-elusive evidence and upturning facts, and follows her characters through the labyrinth of the text with an agile curiosity and genuine sympathy.

Told in Eltang’s trademark poetic diction, with an immaculate pitch, unexpected plot twists and a unique delicacy in use of literary allusions, Cartagena is more than a spectacular literary achievement and a much-awaited literary sensation of the year. Cartagena is an engrossing human drama that will make readers shed tears, run from temptations, solve riddles and shake with sympathy, dread and love for its characters.

Book details


Alpina Non-Fiction

Novel, 2014, 2024

544 pp

Rights sold

  • Albanian Fan Noli

  • Arabic AS Publishers

  • Armenian Oracle

  • Latvian Agdads Mansards

  • Bulgarian Labyrinth

Literary awards

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