Saturday, December 11, 2010

So Long Seville by guest blogger Steven Head

A number of years ago I recall being old enough that my parents left me alone while they went somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. I was at the age when excitement over Christmas presents was still real and curiosity strong enough that I wanted to find them. As you might guess, most were found before they appeared beneath the tree. Unwrapping presents was not very fun that year since there were no surprises.

I am experiencing a similar feeling to that memory of Christmas past having completed the first three books of the Seville Quartet by Robert Wilson. Last month I wrote a review of The Ignorance of Blood, the last in the series set in Seville, Spain with Javier Falcon as the main character. Since then I have read the first three but not in a fashion anyone would recommend.

I was halfway through book one, The Blind Man of Seville, and expected to finish it during the Thanksgiving holiday, so I picked up book two, The Vanished Hands. The only problem was I forgot to bring book one. It is bad enough to read the last book first, but to hopscotch through the initial books is almost unforgivable. But it can be done.

Blind Man is devoted to looking at the life and character of Chief Inspector Falcon, and his deceased artist father Francisco. Of course there is murder and mayhem and all sorts of family and interpersonal intrigue, but it is generally a character book. In Hands Falcon is investigating another murder which gets caught up in international politics, child pornography, and a brief affair with the widow book one. In the third book, The Hidden Assassins, a central focus is the June 6th bombing in Seville along with regional politics, spying, terrorism, and Falcon and the widow re-starting a romantic relationship.

I have to confess a diminished interest by Assassins. Perhaps it was Wilson's writing style which depends heavily on dialogue where characters rarely interrupt one another and go on and on. Or maybe it was the shift away from a character driven to a more action oriented plot. Although it could just be lack of interest since I knew where everything was going.

I want to say I've learned my lesson and will not read series books out of sequence, but that could be a lie. One unexpected result of this series is my new passion for olives and the kinds of snacks described throughout the series. I have resisted buying manzanilla, which I suspect is a kind of wine, and Spanish beers that are a standard ingredient for most Falcon out-of-the-office outings.

Falcon's Seville has been an enjoyable fiction adventure, much like the London of LeCarre's George Smiley and the Berlin of Len Deighton's Bernard Samson. I wonder what reading destination will be next.


Once again, Steve felt my pain from afar and came through with a post. I wonder how he does that? Maybe in this case, he noted (and guffawed over) the weather reports from his former stomping grounds, and decided I would need a blog rescue.

No power for about 12 hours...which meant no TV! But, all is well today, except that I cannot find my copy of Pride and Prejudice, which is our discussion group's pick for next month. I settled in on Patricia Cornwell's new book Port Mortuary. I will continue to sear for dear ol' Jane Austen. I am also waiting for a copy of Cleopatra...can't wait to read that one. the excerpts are grand...and, in my humble opinion....this book will win something big.

Here's my poor little Santa on my deck!

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