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Murder in the Central Committee Paperback – June 1, 2005
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Montalban writes with authority and compassion - a Le Carr?-like sorrow * Publishers Weekly * A thriller worthy of the name: a taut, intelligent tour de force set in the shadowy minefield of post-Franco Spanish politics * Julie Burchill * Splendid flavour of life in Barcelona and Madrid, a memorable hero in Pepe and one of the most startling love scenes you'll ever come across * Scotsman *
Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I personally had the impression that reading the book was like having a mystery genre dream. You know that it is a mystery because there is a corpse and detective. But, on the other hand, it never becomes clear who the bad guys actually are. People come and go with odd items (musical instruments, for instance) and nobody really seems very interested in solving the mystery itself.
I also had the feeling that I was missing quite a bit because the point of the book seems to be as much investigating the state of post-Franco Communist politics as it is a genre read. This is not bad, but since my knowledge is rather limited in that area, a great deal of the book went winging over my head. I am curious as to whether someone more familiar with the ins and outs of Spanish politics would have found it a more engaging reading experience.
Part of what made the book so difficult to read was very likely the translation. I do not know if it was intended to faithfully capture the original in this sense, but it seemed as though Patrick Camiller went out of his way to find the most obscure words possible for use in the edition. The book was also sadly full of typing and editorial errors that should have been caught before publication.
There were enough moments in Murder in the Central Committee for me to get a feeling why Montalban has such an excellent reputation as a writer. I particularly admired the way that he drew characters. I liked Pepe and his quirks, and got more than a few chuckles out of his food obsessions and his habit of burning books instead of logs. I will probably give another one of his books a try to see if I am able to get more out of it as a reader.
Pepe is an agreeable enough detective, sort of a hard-boiled type who likes to provoke people (an orphan with no relations, he is responsible for no one but himself) and also happens to be a food lover, former communist, and former CIA employee. The book's major flaw is that Montalban gets sidetracked from the crime and delivers lengthy and excruciatingly boring details of Spanish communist party history and insider intrigues. Part of the problem lies in the book's age-originally written in 1981, only a few years after the communist party was legalized in Spain-much of this detail might have been more interesting twenty years ago. But I also think that unless one has some overwhelming interest in Spanish politics, this detail both incomprehensible and boring.
That's not the only flaw though, another problem is a more basic detecting one. I give nothing away in saying that the murder was planned to occur when all the lights went out, and yet Pepe does nothing to investigate how that might have been coordinated. The solution is given as if the murderer acted alone, however it clearly could not have been the case! In any event, I certainly wasn't inspired to rush out and read more of Pepe's adventures.