Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Or The Bull Kills You introduces a memorable new detective, Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Spanish Policia Nacional, the force that tackles major crime in Spain’s cities and large towns. We are told that Cámara is nothing special to look at, but he certainly comes over as no ordinary cop.
Or The Bull Kills You is Jason Webster’s first appearance in the thriller world, and his first four books, all non-fiction, won first class reviews. ‘An exceptional writer,’ wrote The Guardian, and The Times that he ‘writes staggeringly well’. This is equally true of his thriller writing.
The novel opens in Valencia, and vividly conjures up the pace, daily life and passions of Spanish city life. It is a day of festival, and Cámara, despite his personal views on bull-fighting, is thrust into the limelight as president of the corrida to judge the matadors’ performance. Although the country is fiercely divided over its attitudes to bull-fighting, the famous young matador Jorge Blanco is currently swaying public opinion back in its favour. However, he fails to turn up at a celebration in a local bar that evening. With brutal murders to solve, Cámara has to pursue a violent and bloody trail that leads him out of Valencia to the mountains and coastal lagoons of Spain, a trail that is embedded in politics and corruption. Blood and gore are not confined to the bullring.
Or The Bull Kills You is more than a thrilling story of violence and detection; it takes the reader deep into the core of the Spanish culture. Cámara himself is a tough, thoughtful and compassionate man, who loves flamenco and brandy and the women in his life, and his private emotional life echoes the sexual symbolism that bullfighting has for the Spanish. In a case that centres on bullfighting and the rival passions it arouses, he goes to great lengths to understand why its attraction should remain deep in the Spanish psyche.
With well-portrayed characters – who could forget Carmen? – and a gripping plot led by a charismatic Cámara, Or The Bull Kills You is an excellent fanfare for what I hope will be a long series to come.