Manuel Vazquez Montalban
Serpent's Tail, Feb 1 2010, $14.95
Former Barcelona cop, Pepe Carvalho earns a living as a private investigator. However sleuthing is not on the short list of what he loves. Instead his first, second, third and nth love is women especially gourmet dining with beautiful females. He also enjoys on a summer night to use his fireplace burning a book a night especially if a woman joins him.
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.