Inspector Enrique Alvarez (A Sunny Disappearance, 2005, etc.) interrupts his leisurely drinking long enough to search for an Englishman who’s stolen half-a-million pounds and fled to Majorca.
The police have no photographs of Michael Faber, and his description, cobbled together from the contradictory accounts of half-a-dozen witnesses, could apply to almost anyone. Nonetheless, Superior Chief Salas, determined to prove the Cuerpo General de Policia’s superiority, has assured Her Majesty’s finest that his force will soon apprehend the embezzler and has passed the responsibility onto the subordinate for whom he’s always reserved his choicest insults. And Alvarez has more to do than find the needle in this particular haystack. Well-heeled Raquel Rexach, an old-school enemy of his cousin Dolores, has reported her jewels stolen. Which thankless job to tackle first? It’s amusingly typical of Alvarez to approach this tough decision by asking, “Whose anger was to be the more respected?” As it turns out, it makes no difference. Doña Rexach’s jewels haven’t really been stolen, and Salas’s initial demands that Alvarez get results are rapidly succeeded by his fury at results so clearly mistaken. It doesn’t help when Alvarez’s principal suspect turns up dead, and he has to add murder to the list of crimes he can’t imagine solving.
Deliciously arch as ever. Alvarez ends up clearing the case in a way that’s as satisfying as it is improbably logical.