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THE HIDDEN ASSASSINS by Robert Wilson Kirkus Star


by Robert Wilson

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-15-101239-3
Publisher: Harcourt

Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón (The Vanished Hands, 2005, etc.) takes on “the largest criminal investigation in Seville’s history” in his hunt for the terrorists who blew up an apartment building.

There’s no obvious sign of how the corpse in the Dumpster came to die, but since his hands and face have been painstakingly removed, it’s clear that whoever killed him didn’t want him quickly identified, and soon enough it’s clear why: because he had some connection to the blast that leveled a block of low-income flats notable only for its basement mosque. Ever since the train bombs that pulled Spain out of the Iraq war, the nation has been suspicious of Muslims, and it isn’t long before the hydra-headed investigation focuses on the community that worshiped every day in the devastated mosque. Falcón’s police work, working from one slender lead to the next, is a model of procedural logic, patience and clarity. What really makes his third case outstanding, however, is Wilson’s mastery of an intricate web of subplots ranging far afield. As investigators interrogate witnesses, analyze coded messages and recruit acquaintances as spies, other citizens start psychotherapy, confront mistresses, find with amazement that their bereavement gives them a rare moral authority and seek personal revenge for their losses.

The ambitious subject suits Wilson’s formidable gifts perfectly, and the Spanish setting should make it easier for American readers to focus on the issues without getting distracted by references too close to home.