A Death in Valencia by Jason Webster
|A Death in Valencia by Jason Webster|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An intriguing and evocative mystery set in Valencia - with a detective you can actually like!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2012|
|Publisher: Chatto and Windus|
|External links: Author's website|
Chief Inspector Max Camara of the Cuerpo Nacional de Policia has rather a lot on his plate. A renowned local paella chef and restaurant owner went missing and then his body turned up in the sea. It's the eve of the Pope's visit to Valencia and there are threats against a local abortion clinic. The mayor and the town hall are set on demolishing El Cabanyal, the colourful fisherman's quarter on the seafront, to make way for modern development. To cap it all some ominous cracks have suddenly appeared in the walls of his flat. Well, he thinks they've suddenly appeared, but he's not quite certain. It's not exactly what you might call a home.
Advertised as the follow-up to Or the Bull Kills You I wondered if I was wise to be reviewing this book as I hadn't read the first in the series but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't feel the lack of the first book but I did wonder if I might find it something of a disappointment after reading A Death in Valencia as there seemed to be quite a few hints as to what happened.
Developing an original fictional detective has now become a difficult task. Just about all the characteristics have been done, if not done to death. You've only to mention 'problems with authority', 'dysfunctional personal life' or 'overindulgence in alcohol' and the candidates flood in from all over the globe. Admittedly much of it goes with the job in real life, but most fictional detectives these days seem to be built from the usual spare parts. Camara is a little bit different in that there's a strong anti-establishment (rather than just anti-authority) streak in him and he's rather partial to the occasional doped-out high. He's more personally likeable than most fictional detectives.
As for a sense of place, I'll confess that I didn't have a great sense of Valencia as a city, but I did for El Cabanyal, the threatened fisherman's quarter. And it's not just the area either - Webster brings out the attitudes of the residents and the strong sense of a community within a major city. The possible destruction of the area is a current and very real concern - and not just in Valencia. I was a little concerned when I saw Jason Webster compared to Michael Dibdin - he doesn't yet have Dibdin's plotting ability but he has that same knack of taking current concerns and weaving them, seamlessly, into a story. Bravo.
I've added Max Camara to the select list of detectives I follow - I have a sense that he will mature well and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
We first met Jason Webster when we reviewed Sacred Sierra: A Year on a Spanish Mountain. It's worth a read. For more of crime set in Spain we can recommend Blood Wedding by P J Brooke and A Darker Night by the same author.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Death in Valencia by Jason Webster at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Death in Valencia by Jason Webster at Amazon.com.
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