It’s not very often that I feel disappointed after reading a novel but on this occasion that is the case. I normally embrace all writing styles but for some reason this particular novel took far longer than expected to read, however, was it a bad storyline? No. For me I think the pace was a little drawn out and meant that it took too long to fully immerse myself into the plot. The other frustration was that I often found myself re-reading a sentence or paragraph because words were left out giving a completely different meaning to the sentence. To begin with I did consider whether this was intentional, was this style of writing because the story was set in Spain and the main characters being Spanish speaking only broken English – however, I believe it is actually down to poor proof reading.
Set in Spain, an injured Detective from the Met Police force is recuperating from an injury where a suspect aimed to kill him and was slightly unfortunate. Staffe is returning to a country which he could class as home, after all his sister now lives there with his nephew and another one on the way, except for one slight problem, it is also the country where ETA killed his parents. He knows the name of the individual that took their lives and is still hunting him down – will he ever succeed?
The story starts with focusing on these two storylines, flitting between Spain and London, you begin to understand the lives of those that have inflicted pain on Staffe. Before, however, either of these threads take a hold a further storyline is brought in, one that Creed tries to link to the other two in some way but quickly takes over as the main plot. In doing this, the pace of this novel slows to an almost deadly stop – I started to think that the discovery of a body, hidden away, replicating that of a mob style killing would mean that I would quickly be engrossed into the novel and fly through the 346 pages however this is far from the case.
Instead, we go back in time to unravel a history of cover ups, where the press and the police work together to try and protect the reputation of this beautiful part of the country. Through the eyes of Staffe we find out about the life of his friend Manolo, who is a goat herder now but at one time could have been anything he had wanted to be, if only he was able to follow his destiny and take a scholarship. His brother, Augustin, being the favourite however, gained the choice, moved to Morocco and left his brother to deal with everything left behind. This included a wayward mother, a father who they believed went mad, a bar owner uncle, a British Artist who has a love affair and the local community who classed him as a dumb fool.
Manolo is chasing the ghost of his mother, who disappeared some years ago – is she still alive? If so, why has she never contacted him? Even when her own father dies she does not appear – surely this means she has come to some cruel end. Whilst exploring this his own fate is sealed and Manolo himself disappears.
It would also appear that the villages of Spain are very family orientated and primos (cousins) seem to be in abundance. In this case, it is not necessarily a good thing. One of Manolo’s cousins, Jesus, is part of the local police force and is set to help cover up the devilish acts surrounding his family; protecting not only his father but also his cousin he believes.
Murders seem to prevail in this novel and after the first body is discovered, which turns out to be that of Augustin (they had previously tried to pass it off as a foreign drug smuggler) bodies turn up frequently.
Marie, Staffe’s sister, finds a body in the woods, a Journalist drives off the side of a cliff, Manolo vanishes and it would seem that others are intent on Staffe returning to the UK; threats coming for some unlikely sources.
This is your typical detective who done it novel set in Spain but without the tension and suspense that comes from some other authors you may have read. The one thing that does appeal however, is the fact that you are left guessing until the end about what really happened and it is the only reason I continued to read it. Would I recommend it to others, probably not, for me the length of time it has taken me to read this novel (normally I would read a book in a day or two and this one has taken closer to a week!!!!) highlights that people may lose interest before they reach the half-way point. I would however, be tempted to try another novel by the same author, I would like to know whether this is his general writing style or a one off.