Webster, Jason - 'Or the Bull Kills You'
Chief Inspector Max Camara of the Policia Nacional based in Valencia, Spain reluctantly deputises for his boss judging at the local bullring. Camara hates bullfighting but enjoys good wine, beer, brandy and food as well as flamenco and smoking marijuana. The latter being grown by his grandfather!
The star matador is Jorge Blanco who is the people's champion. It is early March, the weather is warming up and the annual festival of Fallas - the burning of effigies and fireworks has started as well as local elections.
After the bullfight Camara is invited to a local bar to celebrate. Amongst those awaiting the arrival of Blanco is his mentor the bull-breeder Ramirez and one of his sons - Paco plus Carmen Luna the older woman whom Blanco was due to marry and a local journalist Alicia Beneyto. The party is disrupted by anti-bullfighting protesters before they learn that Blanco has been murdered in the bullring.
It is quickly established that Blanco had a very close friend in Antonio Aguado who is arrested and interviewed. Also under suspicion is Blanco's manager Ruiz Pastor until he too is found brutally murdered. Camara whose long time relationship is coming to an end is attracted to the journalist Alicia, she in turn explains the intricacies of the bullring and tells him about the complex relationships of the Ramirez family including the son who is anti bull fighting - Roberto. Camara has enemies in the police who are trying to undermine his authority and his personal life is contributing to his fall from grace, can he unravel the mysteries behind the two murders or will his enemies prevail?
This novel is a complete change of direction for the author. Born in San Francisco, USA in 1970 he has lived in Spain for 17 years and has written four books about his travels and living in Spain including one about the years following Franco's death. Married to a flamenco dancer and actress he is a good descriptive writer who in Camara has introduced an excellent addition to the detective genre, a hot blooded rival to the chilly Scandinavian heroes.
Geoff Jones, England