Companionably sipping his way through his 22nd case (A Maze of Murders, 1998, etc.), Mallorcan Inspector Enrico Alvarez is immersed once more in the island’s expatriate community, this time focusing on the disappearance of Sabrina, the lush, much-younger wife of former English commodities broker Bevis Ogden, recently hospitalized from the ill effects of the aphrodisiac Spanish Fly, which he presumably took to satisfy his sexy young love. When Sabrina’s green BMW is found abandoned at the airport, rumors proliferate that she flew away with a dashing stud. Then her naked, ringless body is found in the underbrush on the estate of Señor Claudio Zafortega. Ogden is duly distraught. But an insurance fraud investigator tells Alvarez that it’s all an act: Ogden’s heavily insured second wife also supposedly debunked with a young stud, then died—and dear departed Belinda turns out to be a dead ringer for Sabrina. How many times can Ogden work this scam? His inquiries abetted by top-notch brandy provided by the scandalized Brits, Alvarez uncovers another May-December doomed romance, a three-timing lothario, and a spin on a twist that, momentarily, quells the barbs of his huffy superior officer.
Jeffries genially jabs at self-deluding lovers, visiting island philistines, and both native-based and imported pomposity, all with an irony that’s as easy to swallow as a bottle of Hors d’Age.