The pleasures of Spain’s happiest city can’t stop a detective’s slide into breakdown as he looks into a series of gruesome and increasingly personal murders.
Javier Falcón, son of the late artist Francisco Falcón, after years in Madrid, now investigates murders in Seville. That city’s seductive attractions are largely lost on Falcón, who has been abandoned by Inés, the beautiful, brainy wife who told him on the way out that he has no heart. Not so. He’s now suffering extraordinarily from the shock of his latest case, the death of restaurateur Raúl Jiménez, a man in his 70s with, it turns out, close historic ties to Falcón’s father. Jiménez, who had been hogtied by his assassin for the removal of his eyelids, thrashed himself to death to avoid the sight of the video inserted by the murderer in his VCR. Falcón begins to suffer all the symptoms of a classical nervous breakdown as he and his lieutenants sort through forensic evidence and the teasing clues sent to them directly by the murderer. Revelations of Jiménez’s criminal past lead the investigators past his attractive second wife, past his possible involvement in the corruption of Seville’s 1992 World Expo, back all the way to the beginning of his very successful WWII black-marketing, when Javier’s father was his partner. And it’s the father’s story that fleshes out the strange facts. Javier has at last opened Francisco’s studio and come upon the diaries his father kept from his teenaged years as a fascist warrior to his last days as Spain’s second-most famous artist. News of his father’s shady, ever more dissolute life; of the deaths of his mother and stepmother; and then fresh murders push Falcón further and further down, until he catches a lifeline thrown by a blind but visionary psychologist.
Almost overrich in powerful pictures of hard lives, overlit Africa, and long, dark Spanish nights. Cruel, mesmerizing, and wonderfully intelligent.