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
From Publishers Weekly
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