The Hidden Assassins (Javier Falcon) Hardcover – 3 Jul 2006
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Praise for ‘The Silent and the Damned’:
‘First rate…Wilson at his best, a taut, gripping narrative and a sensitive study of the tormented detective.’ Telegraph
‘Wilson’s plotting is intricate, his detective endearingly human, Seville a captivating venue. This is crime fiction of high order.’ The Times
‘Its plotting is persuasive, its characterisation shrewd.’ Times Literary Supplement
Praise for ‘The Blind Man of Seville’:
‘Crime writing at its very best, but it is also something more…it excites, it surprises and it satisfies. This is a fine important novel.’ Philip Oakes, Literary Review
‘Admirably paced and enthrallingly elaborate.’ Sunday Times
‘To call [this] a thriller is to do a grave injustice to an utterly stunning achievement…a psychological thriller of real profundity. Wonderful!’ Paul Preston, author of Franco
‘An ingenious and compelling thriller.’ Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph
‘Brilliant.’ Chris Petit, Guardian
Praise for A Small Death in Lisbon:
‘Excellent… gripping and grim. A vivid and steamy stumble on the wild side’
‘A densely plotted thriller, prickling with excitement… fiercely imagined and not a little frightening’
From the Back Cover
PRAISE FOR THE VANISHED HANDS
"Wilson artfully maintains the suspense until the very end." New York Post
"Tangy, sprawly, garrulous, astute, here s one more Wilson witchery." Los Angeles Times
"A toboggan ride into hell and back." The Columbus Dispatch
"Wilson s plotting is intricate, his detective endearingly human, Seville a captivating venue. This is crime fiction of high order." Times (London)
PRAISE FOR THE BLIND MAN OF SEVILLE
"Wilson has a talent for digging beneath the skin to explore psychological and emotional nuances." The New York Daily News
"Exquisitely painful." Buffalo News
See all Product description
"Splendid . . . consistently stunning, intriguing, and arresting." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The best part of the book--and the part that should have been salvaged by a competent editor, even as she or he wielded a savage blue pencil on the wannabe, novelistic tripe, deals with the catastrophic explosion that flattens a wing of a working-class apartment building, a building that housed a small, working-class mosque at its base. Far and away the best writing in the book describes the bombing and its immediate consequences. This starts partway through Chapter 5 and ends a couple of pages into Chapter 10, not quite a hundred pages in all. Prior to the bombing, the book executed a stutter step through no less than six potential opening gambits, ranging from the cliched, to the consciously obscure, to the tedious and downright boring. Once it got to the blast, though, Wilson's prose became lean and pointed and the dramatic engine beneath the surface of the book revved up. By Chapter 10, I was convinced that the book was going to be a smart, swift, exciting ride.
It was not to be. On page 158, an ambulance tears off in one direction, carrying a survivor and most of the book's narrative energy with it, while the protagonist of the book, Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón saunters off in another direction. It soon becomes plain that the swift, pointed narrative had been a temporary aberration and that the fumbling start(s) marked the author's true concept of the book. Author Wilson, it appeared, had higher aims than being a mere master of thrillers and procedurals. He was a novelist--in his own mind, at least.
As a mere adjunct to a novel, the thriller must suffer. For one thing, the plot, without any fuss at all, suddenly loses its coherence. Here is just one example: Falcón is the head of the police team investigating the biggest single crime committed in Seville during his lifetime. One might, then, reasonably expect that he focus on that crime. But no, both he and his team are curiously indifferent to the crime at hand, focusing instead on an earlier crime that they speculate MIGHT have had something to do with the explosion ... maybe. Falcón, himself, goes haring off to North Africa on a day trip, at the bidding of shadowy intelligence agencies because he is THE ONLY MAN WHO CAN DO THE VITAL JOB--trumped up nonsense that was old hat in Kipling's time.
In fact, the sole reason for that ridiculous diversion is to allow the novelist-author to introduce what he clearly regards as an intelligent and enlightened man with whom Falcón can hold a Philosophical Discussion about the BIG issues of East and West and of an Age of Terrorism. Shucks, everybody knows that novels are about the big stuff, not trifles like apartment buildings collapsing and mosques being crushed beneath them, aren't they?
The said Philosophical Discussion, alas, is a complete flop, resembling nothing so much as the beery conversations in which callow undergraduates take on the problems of the world and devise the clear and simple solutions their elders had inexplicably failed to see:
"But then you rage against the lack of progress and the inability to change in the Arab world."
"I rage against poverty, the lack of work for a young and growing population, the humiliation of a people by--"
"But if you give a young guy work, he'll make money and go out and buy a mobile phone, an iPod and a car," said Falcón.
"He will, once he had made sure that his family is taken care of," said Diouri. "And that is fine as long as the materialism doesn't become his new God. A lot of Americans are profoundly religious whilst being driven by materialism. They believe it goes hand in hand. They are wealthy because they are the chosen people."
"Well, that's confused everything," said Falcón. [Page 286]
Well, I say that particular conversation didn't count for very much, even when it took place between Thoreau and Emerson back at Harvard College, nor when I joined in at my own university, and no more, a couple of centuries hence, when it pops up at the University of Mars.
This is a book in which every female character is abused in one way or another so as to be less than a whole and competent human being. This is a book in which two characters are each given a major introduction and build-up only to serve no real function. This is a book in which a background character is all but conjured out of thin air and onto center stage in order to confirm what has been no more than a set of improbable speculations and, having done so, vanishes just as quickly. This is a book in which all the important characters are close friends or, failing that, at least former spouses. This is a book that aims high but falls into mere soap opera. This is a book in which the author zooms right past the natural end in pursuit of unrewarding anticlimax.
In short, this is a book that coulda been a contender, but now it's just a mug.
Three stars--for what might have been, rather than what is.
There is just too much bloated detail going on throughout the book. The storyline is complicated enough without being bogged down with - in my view - irrelevant details about nothing very much. It's a long book but it would have worked better by being more brutally edited.
I suppose Falcon's mixed up private and family life is part of the attraction but it leaves the reader confused at times as we try to fathom out his past life in North Africa, his suspect father and his complicated friends in high places.
Of course, some of this is explained in earlier books but if one is coming to the series for the first time, I fear there will be confusion - or, at the very least, a slowing down of the thrust of the story.
Anyway, the waffle aside, I enjoyed the book. Robert Wilson gets to grips with aplomb with the Spanish investigative procedures, as he does with their life style. I'm not sure the English could get used to casual callers at the house at 11pm nor popping out for a meal not much earlier than that. But its this atmosphere that brings the book to life.
It certainly makes a welcome change from the rain-soaked pavements of gritty British towns and cities so well recorded by our popular current crime thriller writers. Having got the taste, I'll search out the next book to see how he prevails once again.
As you can tell from my introduction, the investigation leads Falcon in a number of different directions. It involves the American and Spanish secret services, and Falcon's Muslim and Arabic friends. It also see Falcon develop a love interest, and a married couple have a rather sordid set of goings on (for no apparent reason that really advanced the story, so far as I could tell).
The different strands are all woven together rather neatly by the end. The problem is it took a while to get there. Don't get me wrong, I mostly liked the journey, but did we really need the love interest? Probably not. Did we need the married couple's sordid goings on? Not really, and I rather suspect that the book would have been tighter for them not being there.
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