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Tattoo: A Pepe Carvalho Mystery (Pepe Carvalho Mysteries) Paperback – February 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Those who prefer getting inside characters' heads to figuring out whodunit will enjoy this mystery in Montalbán's series featuring food-loving PI Pepe Carvalho (Buenos Aires Quintet, etc.), first published in Spain in 1976. When the corpse of an unknown man with the words Born to Raise Hell in Hell tattooed on his shoulder surfaces off the Barcelona coast, Ramón Freixas, a hair salon owner, asks Carvalho to investigate. For reasons he doesn't share with the gumshoe, Freixas wants the victim identified. The tattoo's trail takes the detective to Amsterdam, where he figures out the murder was related to the drug trade. Carvalho's cynicism (he divides the world into those who go to jail and those who might go to jail) will make him a familiar figure to hard-boiled devotees. The final twist will appeal to readers comfortable with some ambiguity. (Feb.)
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Former cop and current Barcelona PI Pepe Carvalho is content with his life, eating the best foods and dating a high-class prostitute. He only takes on cases that intrigue him, such as that of the tattooed man found washed up on a public beach with no leads to his identity except the tattoo (“Born to raise Hell in Hell”) inscribed across his back. When a local shopkeeper asks Pepe to find out who the man is, Pepe agrees, and soon the trail takes him to Amsterdam, one of his favorite cities. Just as when Carvalho is home in Barcelona, good eating often take precedence over the investigation at hand, and sightseeing only addss to the burden. The slow pace of the investigation is enlivened by Montalban’s descriptions of both Barcelona and Amsterdam, as well as by the fully fleshed secondary characters, from Pepe’s hooker girlfriend to the hairdresser who initially hires him. Recommend this one to fans of Roderic Jeffries’ Enrique Alvarez, the Mallorcan inspector with a taste for good food and slowly paced investigations that easily matches Carvalho. --Jessica Moyer
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In "Tattoo" Carvalho is hired by the owner of a beauty salon to identify a dead man who has been found on a local beach with his face eaten off by the fishes. He has a very unusual tattoo, which is the only real means of identification. This plot involves Carvalho in the seamy side of life in Barcelona and in Amsterdam.
Montalban does a great job with this plot. I was involved in the story at all times. The level of complexity is excellent. The resolution is perfect. The characters are varied and portrayed seemingly with authenticity (what do I know about life in Barcelona, after all?). This is a very good mystery with some great descriptions of gourmet food thrown in. Just a real thumbs up for this book.
For more mystery series that may entertain you, check out my website describing and reviewing many series (see my Amazon profile for the URL).
Two people swimming off a public beach find a badly devoured corpse as the fish dined on the victim's face. On his back is a tattoo "Born to Raise Hell in Hell". After having a tryst interrupted, Senor Ramon Freixas, husband of Senora Queter the hairdresser salon owner, hires Carvalho to find out who the deceased is though he refuses to explain his interest in the corpse. The sleuth starts with neighborhood tattoo shops that lead Carvalho to Amsterdam where he is persona non grata by law enforcement officials and drug gangs.
This is an entertaining Spanish private investigative Noir starring a wonderful cynic who classifies people as: those in jail; those who should be in jail, beautiful women who cherish his mind and body; and gourmet chefs. Fans will enjoy the whodunit that takes a deep look at the underbelly of European society while marveling at an age when chauvinists were acceptable and a person could fly through airport security carrying weapons.