Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Man of My Life-Manuel Vazquez Montalban

The Man of My Life
Manuel Vazquez Montalban
Serpent’s Tail, Feb 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9781852429348

Having spent some time in Buenos Aires (see THE BUENOS AIRES QUINTET), investigator Pepe Carvalho has returned home to Barcelona. However, he has no time to adjust to the time zone change as he has women to dine and a murder investigation to conduct. Someone killed Lazaro Conasal, son of an influential financer. Lazaro’s mother informs Pepe that her late son and she agreed that Hannibal with his muzzle in the Silence of the Lambs is her husband and his father.

The case takes a strange spin into the growing Satanist cults as Catholicism has increasingly become disfavored with the exposures of wrongdoing, especially depravity, by the Church during the Franco Era. He also finds ties to anarchists who want Catalonia to separate from Spain. With pressure to resolve the case preferably with a lowlife discard of no regard, Pepe ignores the noise and in between dining with a multitude of women, he continues his inquiry.

This Spanish investigator tale is not an easy read as the social elements of separatism and religion as well as the lampooning of the aging lothario cop at times overwhelms the sleuthing. Pepe is a refreshing tour guide of where to dine in Barcelona and must have one heck of a supply of Viagra. The profound look at the failures of Catholicism in Spain is gripping and when combined with the anarchism subplot together they supersede the whodunit. Still fans who prefer something different will want to read Pepe Carvalho’s return home.

Harriet Klausner