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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out With The Old, In With The New: Spanish Cultural Friction = Murder and Mayhem in Valencia
Jason Webster has his finger on the pulse of Spain in the Post-Franco Era and he's detecting a serious arrythmia. A Death In Valencia is a tightly written mystery that you won't want to put down. But it's more than that. Having lived there for months at a time for the past ten years, I can tell you that Webster has captured the variable natures (both traditional and...
Published on 12 July 2012 by John Barile

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if you like your crime fiction at the more cerebral end of the spectrum
Life's hard for Inspector Max Camera: his love life's rubbish, there are ominous cracks appearing in his apartment, and now his favourite paella chef has been fished from the sea...

This is written with intelligence and a fine sense of setting but it is quite a slow-paced read, albeit one packed with `issues': the pope's visit renews pro-life vs. abortion...
Published on 22 Aug. 2012 by Roman Clodia


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if you like your crime fiction at the more cerebral end of the spectrum, 22 Aug. 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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Life's hard for Inspector Max Camera: his love life's rubbish, there are ominous cracks appearing in his apartment, and now his favourite paella chef has been fished from the sea...

This is written with intelligence and a fine sense of setting but it is quite a slow-paced read, albeit one packed with `issues': the pope's visit renews pro-life vs. abortion debates; there are dodgy construction works taking place in Valencia with the help of corrupt politicians; and a possible secret government conspiracy which spawns paramilitary activity.

Webster knows his setting and that comes over well, especially the continued conflict between right- and left-wing politics in the face of Catholicism and the legacy of Franco. However I couldn't help feeling that there are just too many issues shoe-horned into one fairly short (214 pages) book and the beginning, especially, is very slow and a bit hard to get into. The pace does pick up, and the plot starts coming together but Max Camera himself feels a bit thinly-drawn.

So this ends up being a good read - but I don't think I'm hooked enough to read on in the series: 3.5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viva Valencia, 13 Sept. 2012
By 
lovemurakami "tooty2" (uk) - See all my reviews
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Max Camara is back in this second outing for the Valencian Chief Inspector, and even though this is the follow up novel to Or the Bull Kills You, as a reader you don't need to read the first to enjoy this. Camara is a complicated detective (which is always a good thing for the crime enthusiast), his love life is complicated as are his relationships in general. He finds himself caught up into an investigation of a body found floating out at sea. As if this isn't enough Camara receives a call which will change his life for the short term and may be connected to political corruption within Valencia.

Jason Webster writes about Valencia really well, he conjures up the area and its' people really well and the fictional characters which populate the novel are totally believable and engaging. You find yourself immersed within the story and drawn along with the quick and clever plotting. An excellent read and well worth giving it a go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but Absorbing Police Procedural in a Spanish Setting, 15 Sept. 2012
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: ADeath in Valencia (Paperback)
A Death in Valencia is a well written police procedural with a number of features which rank it well above the average offering in this genre. Max Camera is an interesting and complex character as the lead detective, and early in the book it is clear that the worrying cracks appearing on the walls in his apartment are mirroring similarly worrying cracks in his rather muddled personal and professional life. The Valencian setting for this story, which is extremely well described by the author, provides both a colourful and distinctive backdrop. The other element which permeates the whole of this tale is the degree of corruption and double dealing in the public life of Valencia and which seems to intrude on all aspects of the work of the police and the local government.

The book starts with the discovery of the floating corpse of a missing and renowned local paella chef, Pepe Roures. Paella is taken very seriously in Valencia so Pepe, who has been vigorously campaigning to save the ancient fishing quarter, El Cabanyal, from the developers is very well known locally. Whilst motives are at first not obvious to Camera, there is a further crime with the kidnapping of a pro abortion clinician shortly before the visit by the pope. Camera begins to see possible connections between these two crimes.

This is the second book featuring Max Camera, but this story can be read on a standalone basis without the reader feeling that they are missing essential background information. The plot is quite complex and interesting and towards the end the pace of the plot speeds up so that this ends up as something of a page turner. Personally I had a certain amount of difficulty keeping up with the individual characters, as they have authentic Spanish names and I had to keep thinking back as to exactly how they fitted in. However, it is difficult to see how this could have been avoided.

So to summarise, this is a relatively short but very absorbing tale which most readers will enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So-so as a crime novel but spot on in local detail., 18 Oct. 2012
By 
El Loro (London, England) - See all my reviews
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I came to this like I might approach a racion of paella in an English tapas bar, almost certain it would be good but as good as it could be, rosemary instead of garlic.

As a crime novel, its OK. Camara is no Montalbano but he is convincing enough as a Spanish detective, bad habits and all. The crime and detection part of the novel is convincing.

What makes this stand out is Jason Webster's understanding of Spanish public life, still hamstrung from a hundred years of civil wars and dictatorship, where the media openly takes sides in local and national politics and el enchufe, who you know, still matters more than what you are capable of.

Not bad at all for un escritor ingles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than a thriller, 4 Sept. 2012
By 
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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Max Camara is a one-off, and this is his second outing. I didn't read the first but I must say the back story was handled well and I never felt that I had missed something and I will now seek out the first in the series.

The plotline is well developed, and includes political corruption, both past and present, jerry built apartments and the battle between the old and the new Spain, all broughtto life by the cast of supporting characters,and Webster's descriptions of a steamy Valencia.

Camara will become a firm favourite, as characters this original are few and far between.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and political skullduggery in Valencia, 25 July 2012
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I haven't read the first book in this series (yet) but for me it was a good standalone read. I can't say it inspired me to go anywhere near Valencia, but the the political shenanigans coupled with a murder story, kept me reading happily until it finished (it is not a long book).
The protagonist, Max Camara, is a young for his rank Chief Inspector in the Policia Nacional, dealing with major crime in his area. I admit to finding the Spanish police set up very confusing, even after reading many books about the Italian police, but Max himself is a complex individual; warm, sympathetic and caring but also given to drug use and quick violence. The poor man is not helped by the complete collapse, at the start of the story, of his apartment block which tragically kills a mother and her baby son and leaves him homeless. The collapse is due to botched sewage works and subsidence caused by new working on the Metro system, and can be traced back to corruption in high places. Living out of plastic bags, Max investigates the murder of a leading chef and the kidnap of an abortion clinic doctor on the eve of a visit to Valencia by the Pope. He faces obstruction from his own superiors; town planners who want to pull down an old residential part of the city; the conservative attitudes of many of the city leaders and, not least, his own attitudes to abortion which he is unwilling to face.
Max comes alive on the page, as does his colleague Torres. The 'villains' are well drawn and the minor characters are believable people. The actual crimes are not sensational, but the background of a city struggling to come to terms with democracy, however corrupt, after centuries of Church and rigid State rule. Valencia itself forms a big part of the story; vibrant, dirty, messy, proud, sometimes beautiful. You can practically smell it in all its glory, and if you like paella (which I don't) you may even drool at times while reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and politics in contemporary Spain, 5 July 2013
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Death in Valencia: (Max Cámara 2) (Paperback)
I like this series (two books so far) because the story lines are tied to current political and social issues in Spain, and more specifically, in the city of Valencia. In the first book, the future of bull-fighting was the center of discussion and action. In this second outing, "A Death in Valencia", abortion, urban renewal and government/developer collusion become the leitmotifs. The protagonist here is Chief Inspector Max Camara of the National Police--a Spanish version of the fairly typical senior copper, who has a lot of personal problems, burnout, lousy love life and growing professional ambivalence. The action starts with the murder of a paella restaurant owner who had been holding out against redevelopment of the neighborhood in which his small, but famous, bistro was located. The police procedural that is launched by the man's death leads to a tangle of corrupt politicians and childhood relationships.

Author Jason Webster knows his locale well and spins a good story in that context. His prose is clear and free-flowing. The storyline is inventive and agreeably logical for the reader. For me that usually means that the writer doesn't have to fall back on irrational behavior or natural disaster to bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion. The ending in "A Death..." makes sense and doesn't stretch too far getting there.

Good read from a talented writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Murder Mystery with a Difference, 1 Aug. 2012
By 
Peter Gordon (Bournemouth, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Other than wishing I had read the first Max Camara mystery, I thoroughly enjoyed A Death in Valencia. Mr Webster is obviously not one to go over old ground too much, which is good, and this is certainly still a "stand alone" tale. I enjoyed the insight into the different aspects of life in Spain and found Max a very appealing protagonist. I will certainly make a point of reading "Or the Bull kills you", to give me more of an insight into Max Camara; I will also read any follow-ups.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping...., 28 Mar. 2013
By 
mandynolan "mandynolan" - See all my reviews
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I like the idea of learning about different cultures through novels and I did that with this...

It was a gripping and interesting tale that also led me through modern day Spain....It shows the tension between Old Spain and New Spain .... and I found the central character engaging and interesting.....
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the modern Spanish psyche, 20 July 2012
The second in Jason Webster's series about Valencia-based police inspector Max Cámara, A Death in Valencia builds on the multilayered character and the rich ambience of the city that the writer introduced us to in his opening novel of the series, Or the Bull Kills You.

The latest offering continues on from that first introduction into this vibrant Mediterranean city, but you can quite comfortably read it as a stand-alone, and also revert to the first book afterwards. The author, acclaimed for earlier non-fiction works on piquant facets of Spanish history and life, has won a whole new audience with what is shaping up to be a highly compelling detective series set within the balmy atmosphere of this intriguing Spanish city.

Webster is a master at creating an atmosphere, revelling in both the charm and the earthy grit of his chosen setting as he accurately describes the scene. It's perhaps not surprising, for this British author has lived in Valencia for some time and is not the kind of person to shy away from any part of it. His knowledge of and passion for the city comes to the fore in his writing, and in his portrayal of Max Cámara is reflected both a keen understanding of the modern Spanish psyche and an acceptance of human nature in all its glory and shortcomings.

A Death in Valencia builds on Or the Bull Kills You, yet takes you on a slightly different journey. In addition to murder cases and political intrigue, Cámara also has his own demons to confront in a storey that takes us deeper into his world. A classic detective whodunit with a modern twist, A Death in Valencia will keep you turning the pages thanks to a compelling plot and richly evocative tone that explores deeper issues as it paints a compelling picture of Valencia. You'll find it hard to resist the temptation to visit Camera's haunts in person.
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A Death in Valencia: (Max Cámara 2)
A Death in Valencia: (Max Cámara 2) by Jason Webster (Paperback - 4 July 2013)
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