Sunday, September 28, 2008


I recently read the seventh book in a crime series that should have finished with number six. [ A review of this poor effort might possibly appear on the excellent Euro Crime in the future]

I therefore decided that my next read would be something I was sure would clear my head of the abject nonsense I had just read. I was going to see the film Jar City [adapted from the Arnaldur Indridason novel] in a few days so to avoid confusion I put off starting Indridason's Arctic Chill and read March Violets by Philip Kerr.

First published in 1989 March Violets [the title refers to those people jumping late on the Nazi bandwagon] was the first in the Berlin Noir trilogy featuring Berlin cop turned private investigator Bernie Gunther and was quickly followed by The Pale Criminal in 1990 and A German Requiem in 1991.

Then after a 15 year gap Kerr returned to his Philip Marlowe-like wise cracking detective in 2006 with The One From The Other reviewed  here and here and this year with A Quiet Flame which I reviewed here.

The long gap from its publication 1989 has not dulled the impact of March Violets set in the Berlin of 1936 during the Olympic Games. Philip Kerr brilliantly uses the very 'Raymond Chandler like' wise cracking private eye Bernie Gunther to emphasise that the Nazis were not only complete bastards but had no sense of humour. 
Bernie Gunther's search for a double murderer, some important lost papers and a diamond necklace while trying to negotiate the complex rivalries and power struggles of a vicious totalitarian regime make this a really gripping book. There are the required plot twists and snappy dialogue to make this a good detective story, but of course it is much more than that as it is also a well researched investigation into the reality of fascism. 
Some might say we have heard this all before and is it necessary to read yet another book about the Nazis, and the interminable rivalries between Goering, Goebbels and Himmler.

Well today there is an election in Austria with two far right leaders, who apparently hate each other, Joerg Haider [BZO Alliance for Austria's Future] and Heinz-Christian Strache [FPO Austrian Freedom Party] expected to make gains at the expense of the centre-left parties.

'Is business picking up then?' I said. He turned to look at me. 'What happened to all the books? Weizmann shook his head sadly.
'Unfortunately, I had to remove them. The Nuremberg Laws--' he said with a scornful laugh,'- they forbid a Jew to sell books. Even secondhand ones.' He turned and passed through to the back room. 
'These days I believe in the law like I believe in Horst Wessel's heroism.' 

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Paul Newman has died aged 83. He was something special both as an actor and  a philanthropist who gave so generously to help others
Paul Newman was one of those Hollywood actors who had actually fought in a real war serving on the USS Bunker Hill at Okinawa, and perhaps this was the reason he was such  a shining example of how a real star should behave. 


Iceland's tourist board will not be pleased with the view of the country portrayed in director Baltasar Kormakur's film Jar City. We went to see this film at our local Picture House [at reduced rate for senior citizens ;o))] and this was superb cinema with atmospheric Icelandic choir music, beautiful cinematography of the bleak scenery and compelling acting. 
Kormakur accurately transposed Arnaldur Indridason's Glass Key winning novel, published in the UK as Tainted Blood, with its gripping story to the screen.
It was particularly pleasing that actors had been cast who fitted the image of the characters from the books. There were fine performances from Ingvar Sigurdsson as the perfect Erlendur and Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir as his daughter Eva Lind, and it was their relationship that made this such a moving film. There was also an excellent brooding performance by Atli Rafn Sigurdsson as Orn.
If you have not read any of the Indridason books I am sure you will want to remedy that in the future after seeing this film. 

I should warn you that Icelandic cuisine is not up to Andrea Camilleri's Italian standards and Erlendur's  favourite meal is sheep's head. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


What a week!
Firstly The Wire finished its run in the UK on cable channel FX and then Gordon Brown prolonged the Greek tragedy that is his premiership.
Gordon Brown, 'I'm a man for detail', who failed after a decade in the Treasury to notice the small detail that abolishing the 10p tax rate would affect hundreds of thousands of lower paid workers managed to persuade his party into letting him play as Prime Minister for a little while longer. 

The Wire was brilliant television. It was in fact more than just a television show, it was a series of linked stories brought to the small screen and it made the sort of demands a novel makes on its readers. The Wire was almost written like a Dickens and Conan Doyle novel brought into the 21st century with television naturally taking the place of the weekly or monthly magazines of the 19th century. 
We can't attempt to solve the problems of our cities on both sides of the Atlantic if we don't accept that the problems exist in the first place and the Wire showed us all those problems in a very stark in your face manner. The writing was superior to most television which was to be expected if as well as creator David Simon, who is married to Laura Lippman, and Ed Burns, an ex homicide detective and school teacher, you add crime novelists of the pedigree of Richard Price, George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane to the writing team.

With writers like that the plots were always kept fresh and alive as each series concentrated on one particular aspect of life in Baltimore; the politics, the docks, the  schools, the police, and newspapers, while covering the continuing the saga of the fight against the drug gangs. The acting throughout was top notch and although it seems invidious to pick out anyone from such a great ensemble there were   particularly charismatic performances from Andre Royo, as drug addict Bubbles, and Michael K. Williams as the menacing Omar Little.  

Among the numerous sharp quotes throughout the series one has stuck in my mind because it seems so appropriate at the present moment. 

'You know what the trouble is Brucie? We used to make shit in this shit. Now we put out hands in the next guy's pocket.' 
[Frank Sobotka, Polish American union leader in series two.] 

I am going to miss The Wire a lot, but at least I will have more time to read. 

Monday, September 22, 2008


I almost forgot that The Big O by Irish author Declan Burke was published in the USA today. The crime caper novel The Big O must not be confused with the other Big O Senator Barack Obama. 
None of the characters in Declan's book resemble the professorial junior senator from Illinois who would surely be more at home in a Philip Roth novel. 
On the other hand Sarah Palin would appear to fit right in to the rumbustious shenanigans portrayed so brilliantly in The Big O. 
If only British politicians had one tenth of the charisma and eccentricity of these US presidential hopefuls our elections [when we have them] would be much more fun.

Fun is the word I associate with Declan's book and in my review I wrote that 'The Big O is a loveable rogue of a novel....' and great read. The full review is here
American readers should buy it now and it will give you at least something to laugh about during the election season.


UPS were at the door again today with yet another book from Picador USA
It was the excellent historical mystery The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin reviewed by me here last May, which featured Yashim 'detective, polyglot, chef, eunuch' back in the Istanbul of 1838.

I said then that 'History and mystery, when done as well as this, are an unbeatable combination'. 
I reviewed the sequel The Bellini Card here and included links to Jason Goodwin's blog which has a wealth of background information.

The first book in the Yashim series The Janissary Tree won the Edgar Award  for best first crime fiction novel.

So The Snake Stone is a prize well worth winning, and this time I will keep the competition open for a week and put the correct answers in a hat and draw the winner.

What links Paris, San Stefano, Sevres and Lausanne? 
Answers to please and all correct entries will go into the draw. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Do read the Sunday Salon  post by Maxine at Petrona and her review of The Fire Engine That Disappeared by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo here.
You can keep up to date with Scandinavian crime fiction at Barbara Fister's blog here.

He really seemed quite sensible, thought Gunvald Larsson, but then the Minister of Justice had the reputation of being a shining exception among the career politicians who were busily steering Sweden down the long and evidently unavoidable slope. [The Terrorists 1975]


Arnaldur Indridason's Voices has been won with one of the fastest replies I have had to a quiz question. This is a salutary lesson and I will need to do some serious work to make the Quirky Quiz more convoluted and difficult.

Thanks to those who fired their answers in so quickly last night and I am sorry there could be only one winner. 
The winner from Canada came in 1 hour 26 minutes ahead of the USA, with a very worthy third place entry from Italy 11 minutes back. Better luck next time.

What is the connection between 4,12,50 and 200 miles; Gadhus morhua and a British supermarket chain specializing in frozen food?

The answer of course is:

Gadhus Morhua is the Atlantic Cod, and that fish was at the heart of the fishing wars between Iceland and Britain, in the course of which Iceland -- in 1958, 1972 and 1975 -- tried progressively to extend its fishing limits from 4 to 12 to 50 to 200 miles.  And the name of that supermarket is 'Iceland'.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Those nice people at Picador USA have sent me a copy of Arnaldur Indridason's novel Voices, which won the Martin Beck award in 2005. 
I read this book last year and said 'yet another top quality Scandinavian crime fiction novel with a lot of accurate insight into the multiplicity of problems of parenthood and our modern society'. I was using long words in 2007.
You can read my full review here.
And some other erudite reviews here and here.

You can win a copy of Voices but of course you will have to answer a Crime Scraps teaser. I haven't set a quiz for a while and I must work on that for later in the year.

Anyway first correct answer sent to  wins the book.

What is the connection between 4,12, 50,and 200 miles; Gadhus morhua and a British supermarket chain specializing in frozen food? 

I have made it very easy because the book needs an appreciative home, the quiz will be in a different league.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Second Violin by John Lawton, an enigmatic author who lives on a remote hilltop in Derbyshire, is the first in chronological order of the Troy novels but the sixth he has written.
This novel follows the exploits of the Troy brothers Frederick and Rod, the children of  Russian émigré Alexei Troy who now runs a London based newspaper the Sunday Post. 

'I think we can safely conclude that appeasement is dead. This has got to be the point at which Neville stops being a mouse and becomes a man."
Alex said, 'Mice don't shape up , they just get eaten.'

Rod covers Berlin for the Post and travels to Vienna where he witnesses the Nazi atrocity of Kristallnacht and risks his life to help a 'big eared' Jewish tailor called Joseph Hummel. Lawton mixes real characters and 'real history' with his fictional story and does it with such cleverness that the fictional Rod is expelled from Europe along with the real Hugh Greene, a future director general of the BBC. 
Despite everything Joseph Hummel manages to get to London where he obtains lodgings and work with Billy Jacks, a cockney with a typically 'bolshie' attitude to life. 

Frederick Troy is promoted to Sergeant and along with Walter Stilton, who has a very attractive daughter, and the thoroughly unpleasant Steerforth they work the 'wop, kraut and kike' run in order to intern on the Isle of Man all those who are not 'English' or 'English enough'. The irony is that Rod, Harrow, Cambridge and upper class accent was born in Vienna and never became  a naturalised subject of the King. Therefore Frederick has to arrest his own brother along with Hummel and Billy Jacks, who was born in Danzig and brought to Stepney at the age of two.
They are transported off to a camp on the Isle of Man where half the brilliant professors, cooks and tailors in England have been interned. As the Blitz on London begins Frederick gets entaangled with two very different beautiful women, and investigates the mysterious deaths of several rabbis.

Troy was short. Below regulation height for a London bobby and only accepted onto the force by waiving of the rules.

Second Violin is an exceptional read, and not only because the short hero gets all the beautiful women, although that helps. The melding of true history with a fictional tale is achieved in a quite masterly fashion and the characters are so sharply drawn and the descriptions so vivid that the reader can see Hummel running through the streets of Vienna chased by SA brownshirts, or Freddie in Judy Jack's kitchen enjoying her hospitality.

Second Violin met all five of the Crime Scraps criteria [entertainment, education, good plot, stimulating thought and memorable characters] for a good crime fiction novel and in fact even without the crime [the serial killing of the rabbis] it would still have been a fine book. I liked the easy to read style with short snappy chapters and the shifting perspective between the brothers activities. 
I loved the humour and above all the truthfulness and lack of sentimentality. 
The situation in England was not like Dad's Army with everyone buckling down to defeat Hitler and many in the late 1930s and the early part of the war would gladly have surrendered and collaborated. John Lawton tells it like it was and I appreciated that honesty.
One thing puzzled me in that John Lawton makes a silly error in the latter part of the book concerning a rabbi and his son, and I wondered if it was deliberate because all the rest of the story is so meticulously researched in order to create the correct atmosphere. Was it a red herring?
Anyway it was not that important and I thoroughly enjoyed the start of the Troy saga and am really looking forward to reading  five more in a  series that the author calls a 'social and political history of my time'. 

'Freddie? Have you ever been to a Jewish funeral?'
He'd been to Freud's, but he didn't think that counted.
'No. I've been to a couple of 'brisses' though. But.......they can't be that different can they?'

Read more on the Troy books here and here.
Thanks to crimeficreader for supplying the book and nagging me to read John Lawton.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I had a 'thinking' day yesterday mostly during the two and a half hours I spent in my car dealer's showroom while the service department dealt with a very sick Nissan Micra. That whirring noise turned out to be a wheel bearing and not a  hole in the exhaust system. The good news was that it was covered by an extended warranty but the realisation that I had been driving round half of Southern England with my granddaughter in the car and something wrong with my wheels was a bit frightening.

Over at the always entertaining Crime Always Pays famous father of Princess Lilyput, Declan Burke had posted a plea to bloggers that 'crime fiction deserves the kind of dynamic, rigorous, extensive and constantly evolving critical work that the interweb is perfectly placed to provide.' He then gave us example from the fine analytical work of Glenn Harper at International Noir.

'Anything with retractable wheels?' 
'No....nor anything with machine guns. I've put in the hours, but I am an amateur.'             Second Violin:John Lawton

Although the garage told me I almost had some experience with 'retractable wheels' I am definitely an amateur critic. I read Sapper and Buchan for the excitement and missed all the jingoism, racism and anti-semitism. I read Sjowall and Wahloo before they were cool and missed a lot of the Marxist exposure of capitalism's total failure. I am frequently bored by what passes  for literary crime fiction and is in reality pretentious waffling. Which is probably what I am doing now.

What do we want when we read a  crime fiction novel?

I want to be entertained, educated, teased with a good plot, made to think, and provided with memorable characters whose future or past exploits I want to explore. It is that simple. 

The masters of the Golden Age, who critics are inclined to look down on now in fact usually managed two or three out of the five. I recently read a so called spy thriller from a new author that managed only one out of five. I was 'made to think' and thought when is this dreadful book going to end. [a review will appear in due course on Euro Crime]

But then you read a novel like Second Violin which scores five out of five with a heady mixture of humour, history, social commentary, sexual entanglements, wonderful characters and sheer entertainment and you realise that this is great fiction. The literary establishment might say it 'transcends the genre' whatever that means but I would say in the words of John Lawton's character Billy Jacks , the cockney Jewish tailor from Stepney who happened to born in Danzig, that it is a bloody good read. 


On a lighter note after I finish Second Violin, I have Dante's Numbers by David Hewson to read courtesy of Maxine of Petrona and Karen of Euro Crime on my shelf.
And then two top Nordics, the superb Arnaldur Indridason's Artic Chill and Hakan Nesser's The Mind's Eye are looking very tempting. 
My advanced copy of Leighton Gage's Buried Strangers arrived from New York yesterday and I have a large pile of John Lawtons, Ian Rankin's Exit Music, Inger Frimansson's The Shadow in the Water and Henning Mankell's Firewall all available to read. 
Hibernation with some books this winter looks to be a sensible plan.


When Rudy Vallee, at the opening of George White's 'Scandals" on September 13, 1931 sang;

Life is just a bowl of cherries
Don't make it serious.....
Life's too mysterious....

He summed up both the disillusionment and bewilderment, of Depression and the desire to take them, if possible lightly.

What are we witnessing after the collapse of Lehman Brothers a mere readjustment of the market or a crash of the proportions of 1929? Does anyone know? I doubt it, but the banking system that invented self certificated mortgages and derivatives that no one understands has put us all in jeopardy. 
Should that be self certified mortgages? All I know is that people who earned £25,000 a year and claimed to be earning £65,000 a year in order to buy a house they could not afford needed to be certified. 
The agents, brokers and banks who aided this fiasco in the sub- prime market should be ashamed of the misery they have brought on so many.
Professor Irving Fisher has stated that stock prices have reached 'what looks like a permanently high plateau.' He expects to see the stock market, within a few months, 'a good deal higher than it is today.' Actually he said that lot on October 17th 1929 which shows just how wrong you can be.
A few weeks later the Commercial & Financial Chronicle in the issue of November 2, was a bit more accurate when it said 'The present week has witnessed the greatest stock market catastrophe of all the ages.'

At least reading history books and great fiction such a John Lawton's Second Violin makes you realise that things have been a lot worse within our parent's life times. The optimism of that previous generation was shown when a new song rose to popularity [copyrighted on November 7, 1929] late in 1929: 

Happy Days Are Here Again. 

The song was used as a theme song during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1932 Election campaign.
Let us be optimistic and hope for the best.
[All references taken from Since Yesterday, America in the 1930s: Frederick Lewis Allen 1939]

Monday, September 15, 2008


I am now reading the last third of John Lawton's masterly novel Second Violin. 
Captivated by the brilliance of his writing, his wonderful characters and his ability to deal with such a serious subject and yet inject so much humour into proceedings, I can't wait to move on in the series.  

'England-or so it seemed to me-was a paradise, a country without suffering, changeless, excluded from the common lot of mankind, a happy isle of lotus eaters'.

'Most amazing of all, there were policeman who carried no guns, called you 'Sir" and asked you to sit down when you went to report a change of address'.

Some may scoff at this sentimentality but I suspect to really appreciate England's green and pleasant land you need to have escaped Tsarist pogroms, Nazi atrocities or the grinding poverty and corruption of Southern Italy. 

'England is an amazing country. To anyone coming from the Continent it is a haven and a heaven. Gentlemen, it deserves our thanks. And its people our understanding.' 

Crimeficreader is really the expert on John Lawton and she has written fascinating posts with further links here and here. I don't agree with all John Lawton's reasons for writing about this subject at this time but I suspect he means well.

'Rod could not help but think it made him look like a Jewish Bud Flanagan about to sing 'Underneath the Arches' with Chesney Allen, until he remembered that Bud Flanagan was Jewish in the first place'. And a cousin [fourth or fifth I think] of Mr Crime Scraps. 
To be continued when I finish the book. 


To celebrate the 118th anniversary of her birth a 13 hour collection of tape recordings made by the Queen of Crime Fiction, and uncovered during a spring clean of her former home in Torquay, have been released by her family. You can read the full story at the BBC website here.
There is also a discussion of the significance of the tapes by Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson, and Laura Thompson, author of Christie; An English Mystery here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We had sunshine this morning for the first time in weeks and the shock was too much for my cable TV company and Exeter went off line. It is only then that you realise how much you rely on the internet. 
We  wandered down to the sea at Budleigh Salterton, after our delicious Sunday lunch at Dart Farm, and sat on the beach. We have had an incredibly tough week so that was our excuse for our decadent and lazy day. We also had time to drive through the lovely countryside along the River Otter to South Farm where former director of the Spacex Gallery Deborah Wood's  The Art Room is a pleasant place to spend time browsing the paintings and buying them of course. 

Incidentally I did manage to put two more links in my sidebar yesterday without wrecking anything. 

Europolar requested that I put  a link to their website.  This is a 'site in several languages for fans of European crime fiction covering current news of the literary genre mainly from Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, UK and Italy.
There are some interesting articles about authors: Leon Padura, Andrea Camilleri and Dominique Manotti. So although I have not had time yet to fully explore the site  but it looks an interesting new [for me] source of information here.

I also put in a link to Barbara Fister's excellent Scandinavian Crime Fiction website that I posted previously about here

When a book John Lawton's Second Violin has you laughing and crying within a few pages, and creates a range of very memorable characters who you want to follow right through to the end of the story and beyond, then you know you are reading something special. Thanks to crimeficreader for her frequent recommendations for me to read John Lawton's books. I might make a few short remarks about Second Violin next week but read the review here.
Reading Second Violin emphasises the observation made recently by Jerry Springer and Esther Rantzen on the TV program Who Do You think You Are? that the decisions made by our great grandparents and grandparents affect our lives today, some of us more so than others. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Dom Felipe Antunes, the Bishop of Presidente Vargas, comes to the remote Brazilian town of Cascatas do Pontal to consecrate a new church and is assassinated. When the Pope personally telephones Brazil's president about this outrage Mario Silva, Chief Inspector for Criminal Matters of the Federal Police of Brazil is sent by Nelson Sampaio, the Director of Brazil's Federal Police, to investigate.
Silva assisted by his nephew Hecto Costa, also a Federal cop, and the experienced Agente Arnaldo Nunes discovers that he must also deal with other murders.

'You mentioned Aurelio Azevedo. he was my friend, Chief Inspector. They nailed him to a tree. They shot his wife, Teresa. They even killed Paulo and Marcella, their two kids.' 

Silva and his small team are faced with an uncooperative state police, corrupt judges, ruthless rich landowners, the Landless Worker's League and a divided Church as he attempts stop the escalating violence. There are also  criminal elements preying on street kids and priests involved in 'liberation theology' to add to his problems.
Silva, whose own back story hides some dark secrets, has to face the harsh truth about justice in Brazil and the brutality goes on to its strangely satisfying climax.

'There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked'. Isaiah 48:22

Wicked: evil or morally wrong
Wicked: [informal] excellent or wonderful 
Oxford English Dictionary

Leighton Gage, whose wife is Brazilian and spends part of each  year in Santana do Parnaiba, has written a fast paced exciting political thriller. It is hard to believe that Blood of the Wicked is Leighton's first crime fiction book because it has all the smoothness of a Brazilian samba and is so well researched. 

Mario Silva, the main protagonist, is a rarity among Brazil's underpaid cops who sometimes moonlight as bank robbers, he is honest. But even Mario as we learn in the novel has to accept the limitations of Brazilian justice and has taken the law into his own hands on occasions. Middle class, trained by the FBI at Quantico, and with a social conscience Silva has to be pragmatic in a society where the rich have vast wealth, the poor have very little, and stopping at a red traffic light at night can mean disaster. 

I have always thought crime fiction a wonderful educational tool and Blood of the Wicked  is packed full of information about a country about which I knew relatively little. Thanks to Leighton Gage I now know a lot more about this very rich country that just happens to have a lot of very poor people living in it. 

This is a book with a lot of terrible violence and the excellent writing  makes the action so vivid that one can smell the fear, the blood and the cigar smoke in the air.
I was left breathless by Blood of the Wicked and I am eagerly anticipating the next Mario Silva investigation Buried Strangers which will be published in January 2009.

Raymond Chandler in his essay The Simple Art of Murder said that 'realism takes too much talent.' 

With the stark realism of Blood of the Wicked  Leighton Gage has definitely shown he has that talent. In the next few months Crime Scraps hope to have an interview with Leighton and  a review of Buried Strangers.

'The upper-middle-class condominium called Jardin Jericoara  was less than ten kilometres from the favela of Consolacao, but in socioeconomic terms it was in another galaxy'. 

Monday, September 08, 2008


This wonderful group of people with learning difficulties were back in action on Sunday enjoying their music and hopefully they will be able to get further funding in the next few months. They all live in or near a community that is to be relocated and so face a few problems you can read all about that here and here.
If there any millionaires out there who would like to provide funding to keep the group together please don't be shy.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


W.H. Fox Talbot got the idea of photography while on holiday on Lake Como using the camera obscura and camera lucida as aids to drawing. 
In 1835 he made the earliest surviving photographic negative of the latticed window in the south gallery of Lacock Abbey. Read more about the birth of photography here.

We have come a long way since then and even I can take reasonable photographs with a digital camera. 
The Lacock list grows longer as it seems The Other Boleyn Girl was filmed at Lacock Abbey.
Do click on the photos to see the charming houses in Lacock in greater detail and the pleasures of an English summer at Avebury.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


We have been away  for a few days looking after our granddaughter in Swindon. Luckily there is a lot of beautiful countryside around the city if you can negotiate the plethora of Swindon's roundabouts and the motorway. 
We stayed in the beautiful village of Lacock and travelled into Swindon to do our pleasant duty. Then we took little Miss Crime Scraps to Avebury and perhaps a young geologist was born as she was fascinated by the stones in the shops.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and  Cranford were filmed in Lacock.

On my return I had to deal with some matters concerning the rock group the Honeytones. I have previously posted  here about these young people with learning difficulties who get  so much pleasure from their music and hopefully at last they will be able resume practice tomorrow. 

I have started reading Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage, which is set in Brazil. This is top quality crime fiction with a stark realism and a writing style that puts you right there in the action. I had to check I had all my fingers after one gripping episode. More on this in a few days.

'The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.' 
Psalms 58:10

Monday, September 01, 2008


The Hidden Assassins by Robert Wilson is a brilliant book that deals sensibly with the major problem of religious fanaticism, and the no less serious traumas caused by spousal abuse and psychological problems. 
Robert Wilson is one of the very few writers I have read that can produce a very long book that maintains my interest throughout. His style of writing is  very easy to read and the pages just flow past along with the twists and surprises in the complex plot.
Some readers might find the personal relationships between the characters unlikely but it is said Seville is a village and it is no surprise to me that Javier Falcon would know everyone of influence in the city. 
The fact that his ex wife Ines is married to the investigating judge Calderon and his sister Manuela's partner Angel Zarrias is a major figure in the politics of Andalucia is quiet believable to me.
I worked in a suburban town for 17 years where everyone seemed to be related in some way to everyone else. 

One message from this book is never jump to conclusions where terror is concerned and that perhaps one day good people will reach a compromise between Islam and the West. 

'Our own people were killed in suicide bombings in Casablanca in May 2003, and Muslims died on those trains in Madrid in 2004, and in London in 2005, but they don't remember that.'

'........ as just another way the West has devised to set out to humiliate us.'
' But it isn't the West that has created that website ,' said Ramirez. 'It's another fanatical minority within the West.'

It is a pity we don't have real life detectives like Javier Falcon who with all around them panicking remain calm.

''re looking remarkably relaxed, Javier, said Angel, taking a seat and ordering a beer.
'We have to present a calm exterior to a nervous population who need to believe that somebody has everything under control,' said Falcon.

I will definitely be reading the next book in the Javier Falcon series.