Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DEATH IN VALENCIA - Jason Webster

Hi all! Trying to get back in the saddle after the craziness of Bouchercon. It was a great con, as usual, and I have lots of fun stuff to share with you as soon as I can get it all sorted and prepped for posting. In the meantime, I also have some review catch-up to do.

Before I get to today's review, I would love to point you over to my interview with Dennis Lehane for Shelf Awareness. It ran last Friday while I was at Bouchercon. If the thrill of this ever gets old, I haven't reached that point yet.

And one other little Shelf Awareness tidbit, the little widget at the bottom of the blog, you may want to enter the new contest. It's for R.L. Stine's new adult thriller RED RAIN. I have my copy and am looking forward to digging in.

O.k. on to the review. This is a review that appeared in Shelf Awareness last month (I told you I was behind), and it is appearing here today with their permission.

First line: "The green-and-white Guardia Civil patrol boat looked out of place so close to the shoreline."

Jason Webster’s second novel has Detective Max Cámara dealing with a murdered paella chef and a kidnapped abortionist while his world literally falls in around him—his apartment complex collapses, killing his young neighbor and her toddler son.

With no where to live and no family to speak of, Cámara forces himself to focus on his job in order to counter the pull of depression and self-loathing he feels creeping into his life. But the politics enveloping both the murder and the kidnapping may prove to be more than Cámara can battle.

While set in Spain, Webster’s plot could be easily re-located to almost any developed nation: issues of failing infrastructures, corruption in construction, conflicting moral issues with abortion. Webster carefully dances around this final issue, forcing his protagonist to struggle with both sides of the controversy. The relevance of these themes will help readers easily identify with Cámara’s plight and cheer him on despite his flaws and shortcomings.

Cámara’s likability is also enhanced by his relationship with his partner Paco Torres. Cámara is technically Torres’ superior, but their interactions take on a more brotherly air: easy banter, support and respect.

Readers new to the series may find Cámara’s relationship history a little harder to follow, but this lack of knowledge doesn’t disturb the overall flow of the novel. The Spanish words and phrases throughout, though, seem like language lessons, with every occurrence translated into English. Eliminating what couldn’t be interpreted from context would have removed significant diversion from the plot.

Death in Valencia is available from Minotaur Books in hardcover (ISBN: 9780312581848). It is also available from AudioGo as an unabridged audio, narrated by Mark Meadows.

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