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The Blind Man of Seville Paperback – January 19, 2004

Book 1 of 4 in the Javier Falcon Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

After trying his hand at spy fiction in The Company of Strangers, Robert Wilson returns to his detective-thriller roots with The Blind Man of Seville, a grimly bewitching and character-driven yarn about people confronting their most hidden horrors.

"It was only right that there should be at least one murder in Holy Week," muses Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón as he's called out during Spain's Semana Santa festivities to probe the death of a prosperous Seville restaurateur, Raúl Jiménez. The deceased was found strapped to a chair with his eyelids removed, facing a television on which had been showing a video of him entertaining prostitutes. Jiménez's heart had failed as he struggled to escape. This murder is "more extraordinary than any I have seen in my career," Falcón tells the businessman's widow, as he embarks on an investigation that will lead to the slayings of a hooker and an art dealer, and force the homicide cop into a game of wits against a killer obsessed with the contradictions between illusion and reality. Meanwhile, Falcón is himself obsessed with the long-secreted journals kept by his late father, a famous painter, whose brutal acts during the Spanish Civil War and subsequent hedonism in North Africa shaped Javier's life... and will make him the killer's next target.

Wilson's plot turns rather creakily on the coincidence of Falcón discovering a photograph of his father among Jiménez's things. And lengthy excerpts from the elder Falcón's diaries, while they reveal links between the book's secondary players, and are interesting for their portrayal of wartime Europe and postwar Tangier, nonetheless hobble this story's pace and distract from the modern crimes at its center. Still, there's a poetic edge to this author's prose that makes even his most gruesome or tragic scenes worthy of rereading, and in Javier Falcón--a lonely outsider who shadows his ex-wife and has a perplexing aversion to milk--he creates a police protagonist as satisfyingly and humanly flawed as any since Zé Coelho, from Wilson's outstanding A Small Death in Lisbon. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Proving that even the most talented authors can have an off day, Wilson (A Small Death in Lisbon, etc.) has come up with a long, dense, often brilliantly written but finally off-putting and depressing story, which starts with the grisly murder of a Seville restaurant tycoon. Parts of the novel work wonderfully: an interview between Javier Falc¢n, the chief of Seville's homicide squad, and the victim's young widow, crackles with wit and electricity as she gets more out of him than he does out of her. And Falc¢n (whose late father, a famous painter, had links to the dead tycoon going back to their days in the Foreign Legion in Tangiers during the Spanish Civil War) is often a fascinating figure-when he's not imploding with the weight of his discoveries about his father's past or the stress of his job and a recently failed marriage. Descriptions of a ranch where fighting bulls are bred and of a bullfight are worthy of Hemingway, as are scenes from life in Seville during Holy Week. But in the end, there's too much blood, too many old journals, too much torture and depravity to absorb and process into art and/or entertainment.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Javier Falcon Thrillers
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (January 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156028808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156028806
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

There is great complexity in both segments of the plot- the journal of Falcon's father, as well as, Falcon's story.
This is a dense and somewhat bewildering story that just tried too hard to be too many things and relied on too many tenuous links.
Laurie Fletcher
The book can and will be unsettling, not because it is gory, but it is disturbing where the minds of the characters take you.
Dale F. Powers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker on April 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This, the new novel by the award-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon, appears to have much going for it. The first draw is its rather curious title, the second is its exotic setting, Seville, Spain. Plus, the plot itself sounds rather fascinating...
Thursday 12th of April, and a leading restaurateur is found slain in his home. Tied to a chair in front his TV, he has been forced to view horrifically unendurable images. The horrors of these scenes is evidenced by the self-inflicted wounds caused by Raul Jimenez's desperate struggle not to watch them. On top of that, his eyelids have been removed. The normally dispassionate detective Javier Falcon is shocked deeply, and becomes inexplicably frightened by this killer who seems to have know, intimately, every single detail of his victim's life. Never in his career has he confronted a scene so barbaric.
But, for Javier Falcon, the worst is yet to come. Because, in investigating the victim's complex past, he discovers that it is inextricably connected with that of his own father, world-famous artist Francisco Falcon. The case eventually becomes not just a hunt for a killer clearly prepared to strike again, but a voyage of discovery for Falcon as he, through Francisco's journals, learns much about his father's past and the dark secrets it hides...
This story, told through the dual narratives of fascinating diary extracts and standard third-person narration, is told expertly. Even though the first hundred pages or so grow slightly dull at times, and it takes a while to settle all the numerous characters in your mind, the pace soon picks up as we learn that the case has as much to do with the past as it does the present. The setting is described wonderfully, and the city of Seville is really brought to life, shimmering with vitality.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is Semana Santa in Seville and everything is in a state of excitement, anticipating a full week of Easter processions, crowds of celebrants lining the streets in preparation. In the middle of the cheerful chaos, Inspector Jefe Falcon is chosen to investigate a gruesome murder case with implications of dark secrets and a long-buried history of brutality.

Raul Jimenez surrounded himself with celebrity and the attendant bourgeoisie who made his life run smoothly. With a penchant for depravity, there was a discrepancy between his public and private lives, leading to speculation about the grotesque manner of the killing. As the case unfolds, something equally dark surfaces in Falcon's subconscious, a reawakening of memories tied to his own father, a famous artist of brutal intensity, Francisco Falcon. Living alone in his father's huge mansion, memory lurks in every corner; separated from his wife, Falcon is left confused and vulnerable.

The Inspector seizes upon the idea that the murder is rooted somewhere in Jimenez' past in Tangier in the 1930's and '40's. Falcon, as is his way, leaves no detail to chance, not Raul's younger wife, his son from a prior marriage, nor previous nefarious business associates. Clearly a man of uninhibited tastes, Jimenez had an equally murky history in Tangier, long before attaining the social status of Seville, his peasant beginnings obscured by the sophistication of wealth and power.

Falcon falls deeper into the mystery of his father's past, one that runs concurrent with that of Jimenez, confusing the Inspector's ability to separate truth from fiction. The artist's diaries rival Falcon's attention to his work on the case, as the Inspector becomes preoccupied with the history of the man who looms large in death as well as life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Java Falcon, homicide detective working in Seville, Spain is confronted by several problems. First of all, he must investigate the brutal murder of a local restaurateur who was found with his eyelids removed evidently forced to watch something and killing himself trying to get out of the restraints. Falcon is particularly affected by the mutilated eyelids. The second issue concerns a journal written by his dead father, a famous artist. Falcon was asked to destroy the journal in a letter written by his father just prior to his death, However, he disobeys and in stark detail learns what a depraved and damaged man his father was. The third problem is Falcon facing his own demons as he deals with the journal and the murder. Will his struggle prove to be truly self destructive?
First of all, this is most definitely not a book that appeals to my personal taste. It is long- very very long and is written in such a leisurely introspective style that it actually reads much longer than it is. The British call this a thriller and I simply cannot fatham why. I would also not characterize the book as compelling or even enjoyable. To be honest, I couldn't wait to finish it. Yet its excellence cannot be denied. The writing is lyrical. Falcon's personal angst is so deep and well thought out that his character becomes breathtakingly lifelike. There is great complexity in both segments of the plot- the journal of Falcon's father, as well as, Falcon's story. There is greatness here- that cannot be denied. This book reminds me of the classics of literature that we had to read in school- great books that challenged the reader. The bottom line is the book is not fun but is highly worthwhile.
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