“ Hardcover: 256 pages / Publisher: Severn House / Published: Nov 2004 „
==Synopsis of the book:==
Wealthy and successful businessman Maurice Rook attractive wife reports to the Police he has not returned from a sailing trip. They are ex-pats living the high life in Mallorca, but this success as been at the expense of friends and family alike. Who have gone into partnership with Rook and found they have lost their investments, while they appear still wealthy and unaffected by losses.
After a few days without word from Rook the local Police Sergeant Alvarez is asked to make enquiries. As not only is his wife looking for him but now the missing man's insurance company are involved as she has already alerted them to that fact he has disappeared. The insurance company think this is a scam as his life as only recently been insured for a million pounds. Alvarez must try and piece together what happened to Rook on his solo trip and if he was somehow drowned or if indeed he has simply disappeared.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I would say I generally enjoyed this Detective thriller. Although at times I found it hard and slow going I stuck with it and it got better and better the longer it went on. I think I initially suffered from not understanding enough about the very different Mallorcan culture to appreciate it. This is something I also struggle with with many American writers but I think on this occasion to was more of not being used the very different way they seem to conduct an investigation.
I always think it is important when reading a book that is part of a series such as this to be able to pick any of the books and read it without feeling you have missed much that has happened previously. I was amazed to find this series has 36 stories within it and the book I purchased was the 29th of these. And while I was surprised there were so many I did feel I had missed certain things. For example I did not understand who it was Alzarez lived with as it did not seem it was his parents and it was not explained during the story.
This was my first experience of Roderic Jefferies writing indeed before finding this book as the local car boot I had never even heard for him before. I find that fact odd because as well as the 36 stories so far in the Alvarez series he had also written another 27 books as well. Usually even if I have not read a crime writer I have heard about them or read reviews about them but this writer had clearly somehow always past me by. I had not even heard anyone discuss his books either. One thing I did like about this book and I think it shows in his writings are that he is familiar with life in Mallorca as he lives there with his wife.
When I spotted this book for sale at a local car-boot two things persuaded me to buy it. The first was the price, it was on sale for 50p and at that price you can't really go wrong. The second was the interesting and great detailed summary of the story. This was only two paragraphs long but it was full of detail about Maurice Rook and his life and it sounded interesting. As very quickly you could see that despite his wealth he was not a popular man, except with the ladies.
Upon investigation I could not find this book available in a paperback format, which would make it a bit expensive especially if you plan to buy it new. And will I thought this book was good I am really not sure it is worth this list price of 18.99. Probably like me it would be better to but in a charity shop or a second hand bookseller.
When I started reading the story it initially focused on Rook and his Wife and a few of their friends who had dealings with them. It very quickly became apparent that he had upset several people and had affairs with several of these friends wives. At this point I felt anyone seemed to have a reason to want to kill him. While at the same time it was obvious too that Rook and his wife where organising and Insurance scam. I struggled with what I was reading and I could not remember who was who and what stroke Rook had played on them as I felt this must be relevant and important in the future.
So when the investigation started and Alverez and the Insurance man tried to find the answers, I thought things might improve. But I found it weird that they had time to investigate as they seem to spend their time having Coffee & brandy breaks, lunch and then ceaster, again this was the different culture problem. As a result for me little seemed to be happening and the story was slow. And at this point with Alverez investigation Rook's disappearance there seemed little mystery or suspense within the story too.
However about half way through the story the author started arousing my interest with a much needed twist within the story. This brought new life to the story and made me interested in it. Suddenly, things were happening and although the pace of life in this hot climate was still slow at least Alverez was trying to solve the mystery. For me it was quite an easy read and I did not feel it was too taxing, certainly ideal for a holiday read as I feel you could easily read a little and come back to it later without having remember every detail.
One factor that was on going within the story and always had me laughing was the relationship this Policeman had with his boss. And while I did not know where his boss was based their telephone conversation were always very funny. His boss clearly thought he was totally incompetent and there misunderstandings where priceless. This added light relief to the story but did not detract from the more serious investigation as they were kept very separate from eachother.
The last few chapters I thought were the most rewarding and best of the story. The pace had quickened and while Alvarez still continued to get distracted by attractive women, he did at least discover more and get more out of the suspects within the story. Although I did wonder what had happened to modern Police techniques such as forensic evidence, fingerprints etc., as there seemed little evidence of them, it seemed to rely on old fashioned Police work. In a sense it reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel, I just wondered because this writer was born back in 1926 maybe he was not unto date on modern technology, which did at least make the investigation quaint if a little old fashioned.
It was a very clever ending to the story that always had me wondering what would happen. I liked the ending to be truthful I just wished the story had been as good from the start.
Alvarez was the main character within the story and despite him being from a different country and culture I found him a likeable and good character. As previously advised I loved his relationship with his boss but also away from work with the people he lived with. When he did finally start to investigate I liked his approach to it but he seemed to have little support or even respect as a Policeman from the community. And while I haven't yet made my mind up if I think he is as good as many Detectives I enjoy he certainly is different in style from most others I have read about.
While on balance I would say I enjoyed this book, I really do think I need to read a few more in the series to understand the main characters more. Especially as before reading this book I had no real concept of what it was like to be a Policeman working in Mallorca. I have always thought you can't judge a writer on one book alone and there were certain aspects within this story that I liked and I would like to read more about. And knowing more about Alvarez and his history I think will help me enjoy these stories more.
I think I would recommend this crime thriller. My main reason for saying that is I found it to be an interesting story once it finally got going. While it was always interesting to learn more about life on the island and how the locals felt and dealt with the ex-pats who had moved over from countries like England. I think my favourite concept though was the humour that came out of Alvarez conversations he had with his boss and how they really don't understand eachother at all.
Publisher: Severn House
Year first published: 2005
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS January 2013