A ladies’ man’s suspicious tumble over a balustrade threatens to disrupt several meals, though no siestas, for Majorca’s Inspector Enrique Alvarez.
Jasper Vickers was a man who liked the company of women, preferably disporting themselves one at a time in Ca Na Pantella, his palatial home in the Vall del Gnomos. Now Inspector Alvarez is following in their footsteps, summoned by Dr. Llabres. The medical examiner isn’t at all happy with the condition of Vickers’ corpse. Although he apparently drank too much gin (not his favorite tipple) and fell from a second-floor gallery to the tiled floor below, telltale marks on his neck and wrists suggest a different scenario of binding and forcing. Grumbling at “the overwhelming pressure of work from the Vickers case,” Alvarez, armed with a transparently false pretext, sets out to interview all the ladies and their mates whom rumor, servants or automobile registrations have linked to Vickers. It’s a long list, and before he’s worked his way through it with more doggedness than inspiration, ill-tempered Superior Chief Salas loses patience with Alvarez once again and replaces him with Inspector Pocavi. It looks like an ignominious defeat for Alvarez—unless, of course, he comes up with a new way of thinking about an overlooked piece of evidence.
Perhaps the slightest of all Alvarez’s tangy 30-odd cases (Murder Delayed, 2006, etc.). But don’t they all seem that way?