In The Prisoner of Heaven, the year is 1957. Daniel Sempere is looking forward to his friend Fermin's wedding but Fermin has lost weight and seems unusually jumpy. When a stranger shows up and buys a very expensive copy of The Count of Monte Cristo then inscribes it with a mysterious note to Fermin, Daniel is curious enough to follow him. What does the stranger want and why is Fermin not himself? The answers lie, for the most part, in Fermin's complicated past and horrific experience as a prisoner in Montjuic Castle in Barcelona.
Having missed out on the first two books, there were occasionally little hints that I needed to go back to the beginning of the series to get to know the characters, the Sempere & Sons book shop in Barcelona and their history in the previous books; however, I really did feel like the story was complete, apart from the obvious hint that there was more to resolve in a fourth book. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books played a lesser role than I expected it to, and was a bit mystifying when the characters finally arrived there.
I found The Prisoner of Heaven quite breezy and hard to put down but in some minor ways a very tiny bit unsatisfying. It's clear that the series will continue. However, it was a book that I felt immediately drawn into and I remained happily immersed in the story, throughout. Because I haven't read the first two books, I can't say how The Prisoner of Heaven fits within the series and whether or not the tone remains the same, but I enjoyed the story so much that even when some little portion was wrapped up in a disappointing way, it didn't matter. I enjoyed the experience enough that I closed the book eager to find a copy of The Angel's Game and work my way forward.
Recommended - A surprisingly light book with several mysterious strands that stands alone well but leaves enough unsaid to make at least this reader desire to begin at the beginning.