Saturday, October 21, 2006


I am still puzzled as to why I did not really enjoy reading An Olympic Death by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.

All the ingredients were there including an interesting location, Barcelona, a city apparently full of Olympic corruption and greed.

The overweight detective Pepe Carvalho is a well known gourmet and greedy guts, with a Peter Lorre like sidekick, Biscuter, his personal chef and wine cellar manager.
Carvalho investigates the disappearance of a Greek for two French clients, to one of whom the gorgeous Claire Delmas he is very attracted. He is also hired to watch over Beba, a teenage girl dabbling in drugs and geriatric lovers.

Why did I dislike it then, I asked myself? Well on page 136 of the book we have the paragraph;

Brando was bored with all this philosophy, even if it was Greek, but he pretended to be interested. Obviously well brought-up. But in the end he said in icy tone:

"I can do without the theory of the novel. Could you get to the point, please."

I could not agree more, but to be fair perhaps I should have started the series at the beginning.
But in this book there just was not a lot happening.

Has Montalban followed the pattern clearly seen in the Patricia Cornwell books, where the author becomes so infatuated with the brilliance of their character creation that they completely abandon the idea of having a plot. The characters just wander around talking and complaining, and the reader is left wondering if they have entered an exclusive club, and how can they join.

Were the earlier Carvalho books any more lucid, and did they have more meat to the plot?

Perhaps was coming straight from the spartan and economic style of Leonardo Sciascia to the florid Manuel Vazquez Montalban just too big a jump for me.
I might return to Montalban and try one of earlier novels in the future.


Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had a similar response to yours. One possible source of my vague dissatisfaction is that, for a writer whom reviewers always cite for his love of Barcelona, for his mourning at the changes wrought by the Olympics, Vazquez Montalban offers precious little in the way of setting. I did not feel I knew Barcelona better after reading him.

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder is More Fun Away From Home"

11:32 AM  

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