"Murder is the greatest aberration of human nature, it brings out some ingenious subterfuges," remarks Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón, as he ponders a series of ambiguously motivated and ostensibly unconnected suicides in The Vanished Hands, British author Robert Wilson's sequel to his haunting 2003 novel, The Blind Man of Seville.
It's the summer of 2002, more than a year after the shattering events recounted in Blind Man, and Falcón, the chief homicide cop in Seville, Spain, has finally regained his confidence and powers of concentration. Still, he cannot fathom why Rafael Vega, a construction company honcho (and recreational butcher), should have smothered his younger, unstable wife in bed, then chugged a fatal draught of drain cleaner. Is there any connection between this tragedy and the disappearance of the Vegas's Ukranian gardener, or money laundering by the local Russian mafia? Can Rafael Vega's demise be related to his distrust of the U.S. government or to a note found in his hand, with its seeming allusion to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks? As Falcón questions the Vegas's suburban neighbors, he discovers one couple linked to the slaying of an Iranian carpet-dealer in New York, and another nearby resident, renowned actor Pablo Ortega, whose grown son is in prison for kidnapping and abusing an 8-year-old boy. Yet these scandals aren't obviously helpful to Falcón in solving the Vega case. Nor do they explain why those first deaths are soon followed by Ortega's drowning in a cesspool, the suicidal leap of an aging child-crimes investigator, and Russian mafia threats against Falcón.
Wilson doesnt exploit Seville's exotic setting so well here as he did in Blind Man, and it can be challenging to follow this sequel's political backstory. However, the author more than makes up for these weaknesses with the depth of his psychological explorations, the ways in which he taunts his police with justice slightly beyond their reach, and a patient storytelling pace that enhances investigative revelations. Falcón remains a potent and pivotal figure, his traumas in the last book being replaced in these pages by personal dramas (three different women tug at the inspector jefe's heart, feeding his hope without depleting his loneliness). Founded in mendacity, fraught with betrayals, The Vanished Hands maintains a firm grip on the reader from its start. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In Wilson's intricate police procedural set in Seville, Spain—the second to feature introspective detective Javier Falcón—a wealthy couple is found dead in their home: Lucia Vega has been suffocated in her own bed; her husband, construction magnate Rafael Vega, is lying on the kitchen floor, poisoned, with a cryptic note in his hand. Is it a murder-suicide—or something more sinister? Falcón's subsequent investigation reveals a vast criminal conspiracy involving the Russian mafia (crime writing's new favorite bad guys) and human trafficking for prostitution and child pornography (crime writing's new favorite transgressions). As usual, Wilson deftly deploys a vast cast of characters, from an ex-pat American couple to a popular Spanish actor, and spins his trademark web of corruption and deceit. But while Falcón is consistently compelling, struggling with his internal demons and with the challenge of ridding Seville of its moral bankruptcy, the plot itself is too complex to really be engaging. In addition, too many references to the first Falcón novel, The Blind Man of Seville, will confuse new readers. The story of one young Russian prostitute—she's promised a job as a waitress in Portugal and ends up working the streets in Spain—is a chilling reminder of the evil that men do, but her frightening tale is lost in the convoluted story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I didn't like this as much as the earlier novel involving the same characters (The Blind Man of Seville). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Elizabeth
I love this author and his writing style. I'd recommend any & everything he's written. Also, Javier Falcon is a perfect protagonist - mysterious and damaged, and sexy.Published 4 months ago by cjpollara
Reminds me of my years in College when I had to write a paper and it had to be so many pages long.
Author Richard Wilson has crafted another mesmerizing novel that revels in the veniality, endless thirst for power and money, and illicitness of humankind. Read morePublished 11 months ago by carl brookins
Well drawn characters, a strong flavor of Seville, good descriptions. Well-paced plot, attractive protagonist.Published 14 months ago by WordColor2
The themes of corruption and pedophaelia are very current. Many of the characters are flawed especially Falcon. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Maureen Bamsey
This is a hard-to-find part of a finely written tetralogy of international crime and espionage, set in Spain, with interesting and believable characters who evolve in accordance... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Tom C