21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Beautifuly, exotic and shocking thriller,
This review is from: The Blind Man of Seville (Paperback)This novel by the award-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon, appears to have much going for it. The first draw is its rather curious title, the second is its exotic setting, Seville, Spain. Plus, the plot itself sounds rather fascinating…
Thursday 12th of April, and a leading restaurateur is found slain in his home. Tied to a chair in front his TV, he has been forced to view horrifically unendurable images. The horror of these scenes is evidenced by the self-inflicted wounds caused by Raul Jimenez’s desperate struggle not to watch. On top of that, his eyelids have been removed. The normally dispassionate detective Javier Falcon is shocked deeply, and becomes inexplicably frightened by this killer who seems to know, intimately, every single detail of his victim’s life. Never in his career has he confronted a scene so barbaric.
But, for Javier Falcon, the worst is yet to come. Because, in investigating the victim’s complex past, he discovers that it is inextricably connected with that of his own father, world-famous artist Francisco Falcon. The case eventually becomes not just a hunt for a killer clearly prepared to strike again, but a voyage of discovery for Falcon as he, through Francisco’s previously hidden journals, learns much about his father’s past and the dark secrets it hides…
This story, told through the dual narratives of fascinating diary extracts and standard third-person narration, is told expertly. Even though the first hundred pages or so grow slightly dull at times, and it takes a while to settle all the numerous characters in your mind, the pace soon picks up as we learn that the case has as much to do with the past as it does the present. The setting is described wonderfully, and the city of Seville is really brought to life, shimmering with vitality. I might even recommend this book for the setting alone.
The Blind Man of Seville contains the most beautifully realised, brilliantly sustained psychological portrait I have read in years. The lead character, Javier Falcon, is unendingly fascinating and gloriously chilly. The reader cannot help but care and get a little worried as his mental health gently seems to decline as he desperately tries to hold everything together in the face of affecting revelations concerning his present and past. When those revelations finally fully come to light near the finish, it is with a great sense of shock on the reader’s part. Indeed, the final hundred pages are absolutely wonderful, when everything falls into place and the reader realises the scale of what is being revealed.
This book is a brilliant, gritty thriller, and I’d recommend it highly. The writing quality is very good, but the prose itself doesn’t exactly sing. Instead, it has a rather detached coolness that fits surprisingly well. Part tense, exotic thriller, part examination of the effects of the past on the present, and part novel of ideas and of the natural of true art, I’d give this one a big thumbs up. A warning, though: if you don’t like brutality, this may not be for you.
(This book was well-and-truly ROBBED of the CWA Gold Dagger last year, an award it deserved without reservationg.)