Only Pepe Carvalho could use a tattoo saying "Born to Raise Hell in Hell" as evidence that the police are, once again, dead wrong
In a Spain still stifled under the rule of Franco, former CIA operative--and former Communist--Pepe Carvalho has become so cynical he seems to care about nothing except food and sex. He's even taken to burning the occasional book in his Barcelona apartment, just so he can have a fire going in the fireplace when he eats some bacalhao.
But when he sees the cops bungling a case he's hired to investigate--that of a body pulled out of the sea--he's roused by a sense of injustice. The cops think the murder was connected to local drug dealers and brothels, and they begin raiding bars and harassing Barcelona's women of the night. But Carvalho's gut tells him something else is going on, and the cops are wrong once again.
As the cops stir up more and more trouble, and Carvalho gets more and more entwined, he's only got one clue: a tattoo on the dead man's body, one which reads: "Born to Raise Hell in Hell."
Those who prefer getting inside characters' heads to figuring out whodunit will enjoy this mystery in Montalb n's series featuring food-loving PI Pepe Carvalho (Buenos Aires Quintet, etc.), first published in Spain in 1976. When the corpse of an unknown man with the words Born to Raise Hell in Hell tattooed on his shoulder surfaces off the Barcelona coast, Ram n Freixas, a hair salon owner, asks Carvalho to investigate. For reasons he doesn't share with the gumshoe, Freixas wants the victim identified. The tattoo's trail takes the detective to Amsterdam, where he figures out the murder was related to the drug trade. Carvalho's cynicism (he divides the world into those who go to jail and those who might go to jail ) will make him a familiar figure to hard-boiled devotees. The final twist will appeal to readers comfortable with some ambiguity.