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Friday, 28 February 2014

FFB - The Blind Man of Seville

The Blind Man of Seville, my chosen Friday's Forgotten Book today was published in 2003. Like the other good detective writers – Chandler, McDonald and Thomas – the author of this book, Robert Wilson, recognises that the seeds of murder are often sown a long time in the past. Wilson has already shown his command of past times and foreign places in his earlier novels and here he captures modern-day Spain and also mid-twentieth-century Tangier.

The beginning is macabre and brutal: a man is bound, gagged and tortured in front of a television showing something he doesn’t want to look at. The tortured man actually dies from self-inflicted wounds, anything to stop himself watching. It’s Easter week in Seville, where the Feria de Abril is about to swamp the entire city with its gaiety, colour and spectacle.

This story struck a few notes of recognition since I have visited the city. Wilson brings this city alive for the reader. It’s not like a North American city; here there were only seventeen murders last year – most usually committed within the bounds of the family. But detective Javier Falcón discovers that this awful death is different. After the third notable gruesome death, the press dub the culprit ‘the blind man of Seville’ because the dead men have their eyelids cut off so they cannot avoid watching whatever causes them to torture and kill themselves. But as you read on it becomes clear that the blind man is indeed Javier Falcón. He cannot see what his past is telling him.

Ostensibly, it’s a detective story about an insane killer, but it’s much more. It’s about heart-breaking truths revealed against the will, it’s a tense psychological thriller and it asks rather profound questions about the perception of ‘genius.’

‘Why do you think we tolerate evil in someone with a God-given talent? Why will we put up with arrogance and boorishness in a footballer, just because he can score great goals? Why will we accept drunkenness and adultery in a writer, as long as he gives us the poems?’

Through the agency of the uncovered journals of Javier’s father, the story about the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish legionnaires on the Russian Front in the Second World War and the protracted hedonistic exile in Tangier is revealed; Wilson spent some three months writing these journals and much of the material, not being directly pertinent to the story’s flow, wasn’t used in the book. One author at least who realises that he doesn’t have to impose all his research on the reader! However, you can access this research via his website, as a pdf in the section on The Blind Man of Seville (but you need to read this book first to gain insight from it): here

Above all else, however, the book reveals character – the good and the bad and all the greys in between. Wilson has written 12 novels, 4 of them Falcón books, two of which have been filmed with Marton Csokas as Falcón: The Blind Man of Seville and The Silent and the Damned (now available on DVD).
If you like police procedural novels set in Spain, you might like to try my novel Blood of the Dragon Trees here
Tigers slaughtered to cure pimples!

Laura Reid likes her new job on Tenerife, teaching the Spanish twins Maria and Ricardo Chávez. She certainly doesn’t want to get involved with Andrew Kirby and his pal, Jalbala Emcheta, who work for CITES, tracking down illegal traders in endangered species. Yet she’s undeniably drawn to Andrew, which is complicated, as she’s also attracted to Felipe, the brother of her widower host, Don Alonso.

Felipe’s girlfriend Lola is jealous and Laura is forced to take sides – risking her own life – as she and Andrew uncover the criminal network that not only deals in the products from endangered species, but also thrives on people trafficking. The pair are aided by two Spanish lawmen, Lieutenant Vargas of the Guardia Civil and Ruben Salazar, Inspector Jefe del Grupo de Homicidios de las Canarias.

Very soon betrayal and mortal danger lurk in the shadows, along with the dark deeds of kidnapping and clandestine scuba diving…

Published by Crooked Cat Publishing

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