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When the body of retired Bolivian diplomat Guido Zavala is found floating in his swimming pool, Inspector Alvarez finds evidence that points to foul play. Though the Inspector would rather be sipping a brandy in the shade, he begins to look for suspects.
As Alvarez digs further into Zavala's past, he quickly uncovers a history of dubious acts that had left Zavala with numerous enemies-each with plenty of motive to see him dead. There is Jerome Robertson, whose beautiful and much younger wife had been involved in an affair with Zavala; Santiago Pons, a builder whose gambling debts had left him at Zavala's mercy; and Bailey, an honorable man who had suffered at the hands of Zavala.
The deeper he delves into the case, the more Alvarez begins to find himself in danger. After a series of phone calls that make it all too clear he could be the next victim, he appeals to Superior Chief Salas for help and is denied. Will Alvarez be able to weed through the long list of suspects before it's too late?
Jeffries delivers yet another delightful and witty mystery featuring "the brandy-loving, slow-moving" (Booklist) Inspector Alvarez.
Murder will out, and does, in this latest addition (after 2000's An Enigmatic Disappearance) to the long-running and well-loved Inspector Alvarez series. Set as usual on Jeffries's home island of Mallorca, it features fair-play detection and (more importantly) keen observation of the human species. When the body of a retired Bolivian diplomat is found floating facedown in his swimming pool, Alvarez suspects the death was no accident. When he begins receiving calls threatening his life if he doesn't drop the case, he knows he's on the right trail. Then the unexpected occurs, proving family bonds are stronger than bureaucratic torpor. The simpatico Alvarez bases his conclusions not on fantastic deductions or painstaking forensic evidence but on patient and profound insight into the human soul. Like Maigret, he savors a case, displaying tolerant bemusement at human foibles. ("Why did modern youth enjoy hairstyles which made them look as if they were suffering from alopecia?") In addition, there are nice touches of local color throughout. ("The bay backed by mountains and marshland, the cerulean sea, and the curving beaches of sand, pebbles, or rock, were still beautiful despite the marina, flats, restaurants and stores selling kitschy goods and the holiday camp which looked as if it had been designed by a French bureaucrat.") In sum, the style is pleasing, the detection inspired and the novel, as a whole, sometimes tragic but never dispiriting.