Good Friday triggers virtuous resolutions in unassuming Mallorcan police inspector Enrique Alvarez. He swears off liquor and lustful thoughts, two of his favorite pastimes. But his resolve is sorely tested. His sister Dolores and his brother-in-law Jaime, assuming that he’s sick, pepper him with annoying questions and intrusive ministrations. Chief Salas insults and hangs up on him. Worst of all, his cases lately have been mind-numbingly trivial, like a pair of hysterical housewives who complain about rattling shutters and would-be attackers. Two baffling crimes rock the inspector out of his clean-living doldrums. Bank employee Robina Wade is tortured and murdered by intruders who leave her husband Charles for dead and go on to pull off a major robbery at her bank. It looks like a professional job, with few clues left behind. A more puzzling case is the death of young Marcial Ramos, ladies’ man and avid motorbiker. His body is found at the bottom of a ravine, with a severe head wound, below his wrecked bike. It looks like an accident, but Alvarez’s intuition tells him otherwise. A little digging uncovers a lot of evidence pointing to murder. And Alvarez’s discovery that Ramos was a peeping Tom opens up a whole new avenue of investigation. Is his death connected to the bank robbery or to the attempted break-ins those housewives reported? More important, will Alvarez fall off the wagon?
In this 33rd outing (The Ambiguity of Murder, 2001, etc.), Jeffries’s ingenuity and wry verve show no signs of flagging. Rumpled everyman Alvarez never wears out his welcome.