An expat playboy’s death by drowning in Majorca would be more convincing if the pool were deeper.
Neil Picare, who made a fortune selling his farm to eager developers, is enjoying the good life on his estate in Puerto Llueso, Majorca, until he dies in his custom swimming pool. Detective Enrique Alvarez interviews Rosalía Mulet, Picare’s cook, who found the body; she says that because Picare couldn’t swim, the pool was designed so he'd never be out of his depth. The post-mortem, too, shows no sign of drowning but instead indicates a quick maneuver that someone else could have made to kill Picare instantly. Superior Chief Salas tiresomely keeps Alvarez making the circuit from one likely suspect to another: the naïve young housemaid who hoped she’d displace the current Señora Picare; a friend who was overheard arguing with the victim at poolside; an impressive number of Picare’s female conquests and their jealous husbands or partners. Alvarez’s progress is characteristically leisurely. He spends more time trying to sample Rosalía’s tempting Majorcan recipes, and Rosalía herself—that is, when he’s not fencing with his exasperated boss, who wants the inspector to look for evidence when Alvarez would much rather be drinking his cousin’s husband’s brandy. In his own sweet time, Alvarez solves the murder in spite of himself, with a suspect who might not be a surprise but a motive that is.
Although newcomers to the long-running Alvarez series (Murdered by Nature, 2012, etc.) may find it hard to get involved in a mystery the hero has so little interest in pursuing, fans will enjoy the latest adventure of this amiably lazy detective.