Published by Henry Holt and Company on August 4th 2015
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When terrorists attack trains traveling through Madrid in 2004, the small Basque town of Muriga is reminded of its own brush with extreme politics. Five years earlier, the politically motivated murder of a rising councilman was easily solved, but the people of Muriga can’t help but feel underlying blame. All That Followed flashes back from the attack in 2004 to explore the months leading up to the councilman’s assassination through the memories of three residents of Muriga.
The story is told by Joni, the aging American teacher; Mariana, the wife of the murdered man; and Iker, who is serving time in prison for the murder. Flashing back and forth in time, from the present to Joni’s beginnings in Muriga after World War II, the novel begins to piece together a story based on different perceptions. At one point, Mariana explains that there are two different types of infidelity: clear, identifiable instances and more subtle, questionable acts. We can see this as a reflection of the book itself, as the narratives serve to shed light on those directly involved in the councilman’s death as well as those who simply allowed it to occur.
The novel’s structure creates a tension that suggests the pieces of past and present will fit together in a revealing or shocking way, but unfortunately never do. Perhaps a feeling of anticipation was my mistake as a reader—as the book clearly lays out the ending in its first pages—and I think others may enjoy it more by understanding this from the start. Though it’s steeped in tension, All That Followed is aimed less at thrills and more at thought; the understanding that comes from examining an event from all sides.