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Corruption in Valencia,
This review is from: A Death in Valencia: (Max Cámara 2) (Paperback)
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This is the second novel to feature the Spanish detective Chief Inspector Max Cámara of Valencia's Policía Nacional. He has an unorthodox approach to his work, is in conflict with his superiors, and has a rather confused personal life, traits he shares with numerous other fictional policeman. Where this story differs from many others is that the author uses his extensive local knowledge to heavily interweave the main crime theme, corruption within the city council, with descriptions of the social and cultural life of Valencia and the wider Spain, including the rivalries between competing law-enforcement organizations and the shadowy world of those wanting to return to the pre-democratic times of Franco. However, this does mean that the plot emerges rather slowly and there is little action until the later stages of the book.
It starts with the discovery on the beach of the corpse of a renowned local paella chef, Pepe Roures. He has been part of the campaign to save the ancient fishing quarter, El Cabanyal, from developers, who with the active support of the council, are steadily demolishing the area. Pepe was very well liked locally and there are no obvious motives for the murder. But when a pro-abortion doctor is kidnapped shortly before a visit by the Pope, Camera begins to see possible connections between these two apparently unrelated events. Eventually, after several false trails, he does of course solve the crimes, but not before several murders are committed. The ending is fast moving and violent, if sometimes rather formulaic.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The many characters are well described and I found the interplay between the crime investigation and Cámara's personal life believable. The same is true for the descriptions of the local social structure, which although I cannot verify from personal experience, seemed authentic. While not a great crime novel, it is original and well worth reading.