THE BODY IN CADIZ BAY by David Serafin


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Like Serafin's previous cases for Superintendent Bernal of Madrid, this new episode is stronger on fanciful political intrigue than mystery or detection; unfortunately, however, it lacks the tart character interplay and gritty police procedure that gave Saturday of Glory (1981) and Madrid Underground (1984) some much-needed warmth and humor. In Cadiz to visit his devout wife (in religious retreat at the local convent), Bernal is asked to take over a top-secret investigation into odd goings-on in Cadiz Bay, not far from US/Spanish military bases. Why is there a dead frogman (eventually identified as a North African) in the Bay? Was he killed by a US laser-beam while trying to sabotage the Spanish fleet? Could there be a Moroccan conspiracy to take over Spanish territories in North Africa ( la the Falklands)? So it seems--after much repetitious, often-technical talk. But, by unlikely coincidence, there's another conspiracy also going on in Cadiz: some right-wing military types are planning to free political prisoners from a local castle--and the plot just happens to involve that convent where Senora Bernal is staying. Thus, importing his regular crew from Madrid, Bernal manages to foil both conspiracies at once--with most of the attention focused on policewoman Elena Fernandez, who goes dangerously undercover at the convent. A few bits of melodrama and local color occasionally provide relief from Serafin's stiff dialogue--but this is Bernal's dreariest outing yet, with some promising personal angles (60-ish Bernal is seeking a divorce so he can marry his pregnant mistress) that never receive satisfying development.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's