A Death in Valencia – Jason Webster

It is yet another book that I bought on my crazy shopping spree at Stanford’s, one thing I must say I am making my way though this book haul, slowly but surely. The reason I bought this book is that I am going to Valencia in September for the first time. Spain for few years seemed to be cursed for me, every time I planned to go something was happening in my life and I had to cancel the trip. Finally two years ago with my Bigger Half we manged to go to Bilbao and Barcelona, it was an amazing trip (despite the horrible problems with my teeth, but this seemed a milder version of the curse, so we decided to go). Last year we spent an extended weekend in Madrid that I also liked very much and this year it is time for Seville and Valencia. Every time I plan vacation in Spain I am baffled at the sheer size of the country, there’s so many places to see, but they are so far away from one another that it is difficult to plan something reasonable (during our two weeks vacation we usually try to visit two cities and spend five days on the beach).

Back to the book. It is a thriller, as is quite easy to figure out. Our detective is Max Camara and a lot is happening. It all starts with a famous paella chef found dead in the sea, in El Cabanyal, an old fishermen quarter that the mayor is dead set on demolishing and replacing with modern buildings. Few days later an abortionist is kidnapped, this being an issue on its own in Spain, but with the Pope’s visit in the next few days is becoming a really sensitive case. On top of that Camara’s house suddenly starts showing weird cracks in the wall, so it looks like no part of Camara’s life is going particularly well. I really enjoyed this book, the characters were interesting and had time to develop, the story was credible and multi-faceted, but the best of all was the portrait of the city. Now I really can’t wait to go to Valencia, Webster describes a seaside city that is full of life, has fascinating past and traditions but also lively present. The word that comes to my mind is very worn out but I’ll use it nonetheless – vibrant. I hope it wasn’t just artistic license.

A well written thriller, with fast-paced action, but also wider background, touching on topics such as abortion, religion, corruption, and the question of what’s right. I know all of it sounds pretty used, but Webster manages to put life into those tropes, or maybe it is the setting that does that.

Have you read any good thrillers or crime recently? What is your favorite beach-read genre?

This is book #1 of my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746books.
See my list as it grows here.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @vkphotospace.com 

20-books 2017

 

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