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The Blind Man of Seville by Robert Wilson - A Javier Falcon Novel
Despite the previous 4 book series centred around the character Bruce Medway, Robert Wilson really arrived on the scene with the 1999 publication of "A Small Death in Lisbon". Winner of the Gold Dagger award for the best mystery of the year, it showcased his story-telling ability and technical skills in running parallel tales across different time periods.
This layered approach to his narrative is again evident in the 2003 offering, The Blind Man of Seville. The novel introduces the charismatic detective Javier Falcon, a man whose complexity anchors the story through an intricate web of history and personal relationships.
In Falcon, Wilson has crafted a central figure (I intentionally avoid the word 'hero') that avoids the cliche of the 'alcoholic loner' while managing to portray the human frailty and moral struggle that give the man such depth.
The son of a famous artist, and with a failed marriage behind him, Falcon seems to need his job as much as the people of Seville need his deductive skills. His character is revealled as he begins a journey of personal discovery he is initially unaware that he is on.
The opening scenes quickly hook the reader with a gruesome murder of an elderly business man alone in his home. The combination of physical and (cleverly undisclosed) psychological torture fill the reader's mind with questions. The answers seem tantalizingly close but are more often than not replaced by further questions as the story unfolds. The prime suspect emerges as the strong willed wife of the victim, a significantly younger woman with a past as colorful as Falcon himself.
Wilson skillfully integrates aspects of everyday life in Seville, using Spanish terms frequently but in a way that still allows the story to flow to those with little knowledge of the language. He also employs a number of author techniques with the diaries of Falcons father creating the second layer of narration centred around Tangier but with wanderings through Spain, and Europe throughout the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
As the murders and revelations continue the tension builds nicely towards the finale and the discovery of past events holds at least as much fascination as the identity of the killer.
I am yet to read a Robert Wilson book that has not been a guaranteed page turner. If you are yet to taste his unique stlye of storytelling I thoroughly encourage you to do so.
One word of warning though - Important plot points in this book are (neccesarily) revealed in later Javier Falcon novels. Read this one first. It's a cracker!