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Or the Bull Kills You

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Overview

An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

"Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you." Chief Inspector Max Cámara thinks in proverbs,and he hates one thing above all: bullfighting. One hot afternoon in Valencia, however, he has to stand in for his boss, judging a festival corrida starring Spain’s most famous young matador. That night, he is back in the bullring, and what he finds on the blood-stained sand shocks the ...

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New York 2011 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. Signed by Author(s) An Outstanding Copy-Signed By The Author On Laid In Book Plate. Signature Only. A First Edition, ... First Printing. Book Is In Fine Condition. Boards Are Clean, Not Bumped. Fore Edges Are Clean. Interior Is Clean And Legible. Not Remaindered. Dust Jacket Is In Fine Condition. Not Chipped Or Crinkled. Not Price Clipped. Dust Jacket Is Covered By Mylar Brodart. Thanks And Enjoy. Read more Show Less

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Or the Bull Kills You

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Overview

An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

"Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you." Chief Inspector Max Cámara thinks in proverbs,and he hates one thing above all: bullfighting. One hot afternoon in Valencia, however, he has to stand in for his boss, judging a festival corrida starring Spain’s most famous young matador. That night, he is back in the bullring, and what he finds on the blood-stained sand shocks the city of Valencia to its core. Cámara is roped into investigating a grisly murder while dealing with violent shadows from his own past, as well as confronting the suspiciousness of the bullfighting community and the stonewalling of local politicians in full electoral campaign. To top it all, Fallas, the loudest fiesta in the country, has just got underway. For Cámara, it seems his problems have only just begun...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Webster's remarkable first novel, a baffling mystery centered on the world of Spanish bullfighting, introduces Chief Insp. Max Cámara of the Valencia police. Despite attacks from animal rights activists and politicians hoping to ride public opposition to bullfighting into office, the sport has had a resurrection, thanks to a charismatic young matador, Jorge Blanco. When Blanco's naked body turns up one night in an empty bullring, with two banderilla darts hanging from his back, a matador's sword in his rib cage, and a Spanish flag tied around his neck, Cámara isn't pleased to be assigned what is bound to be a high-profile murder case. Webster makes the bullfighting integral to the plot rather than a mere backdrop, effortlessly conveying the role of the sport in Spanish society. The well-rounded lead—cynical, willing to bend the rules, emotionally wounded—should be more than capable of sustaining a long series. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"The Spanish city of Valencia looks dazzling in Jason Webster's first novel. Even as the violence escalates and the symbolism thickens, the estimable Inspector Camara remains open-minded, if a bit cynical, about the grand follies of his beautiful city." —The New York Times

 

"Webster...makes his scenes easy to visualize, uses believable dialog, and plays out the investigation in an assured manner. The author’s marvelously structured mystery not only reveals the complex politics behind bullfighting but also introduces us to colorful, tragic, and empathetic characters. The city of Valencia is a character as well, so strong is the sense of place...With its rapid pace and wonderfully flawed detective, this vibrant novel has tremendous appeal."—Library Journal (starred review, debut of the month)

 

"[A] remarkable first novel, a baffling mystery...Webster makes the bullfighting integral to the plot rather than a mere backdrop, effortlessly conveying the role of the sport in Spanish society. The well-rounded lead—cynical, willing to bend the rules, emotionally wounded—should be more than capable of sustaining a long series."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

"Max and his police assistants are intriguing and well-drawn characters, and the Valencia setting is unique and well described." — Booklist

 

"Webster’s insights into bullfighting shed light on aspects of the Spanish character, lifting this debut and its bleak and brooding protagonist above the ordinary." — Kirkus Reviews

 

"Or The Bull Kills You is a superb Spanish police procedural starring a somewhat cynical dedicated cop who steps into the bullring, a place he loathes. The country's culture and heritage, the city, the two faced politicians and the sport provide strong pillars to a terrific whodunit as Camara feels the fishbowl effect as he works a case from inside the bullring with figuratively everyone in the stands watching his investigation." — Midwest Book Reviews

 

  "A sensational debut. Gripping, sexy and above all evocative of Spain's dark underbelly, it's a must-read crime novel."

— Tarquin Hall, author of the Vish Puri mysteries

 

"Webster has penned a great book."

The Bookseller

 

"This inner journey of one of the most attractive figures to enter recent detective fiction is set amid a splendidly authentic Valencia...Like the best detective stories, this book becomes a scrutiny of our own most powerful drives and secrets." — The Independent

 

"For its nifty plotting, great descriptions and the most enchanting new detective I've come across in a good while, I award this novel both ears and the tail."—The Guardian

Library Journal
Chief Inspector Max Cámara might as well be in the ring himself as he investigates the brutal slaying of Valencia's star bullfighter. When a second, ritualistic death occurs, the pressure escalates. Which way to turn? There are the antibullfighting activists, animal breeders, local politicians, and two possible love interests to complicate his life. One question can't be avoided: Where did a gay bullfighter (rumor has it) fit into this macho society? Webster, who lives in Spain and who is married to a flamenco dancer, makes his scenes easy to visualize, uses believable dialog, and plays out the investigation in an assured manner. The author's marvelously structured mystery not only reveals the complex politics behind bullfighting but also introduces us to colorful, tragic, and empathetic characters. The city of Valencia is a character as well, so strong is the sense of place (map included). VERDICT With its rapid pace and wonderfully flawed detective, this vibrant novel has tremendous appeal. Conor Fitzgerald would be a good read-alike; it also would appeal to new fans of Zen (Michael Dibdin's Italian cop) thanks to the recent PBS Masterpiece Mystery! miniseries starring Rufus Sewell.
Kirkus Reviews
A Spanish homicide detective encounters more bull than he bargained for. Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Valencia PD has detested everything to do with "blood-in-the-sand" ever since as a child he saw a matador sink a sword into an already crippled, helpless animal. Young as he was, he regarded the contest as shamefully unequal. Years later, however, he finds himself reluctantly standing in for his boss, the police commissioner, at a particularly significant corrida. It features nonpareil matador Jorge Blanco, who through his consummate skill and exemplary bearing has almost single-handedly rescued bullfighting from what had seemed an inexorable decline. As usual, Blanco's performance is heroic. He's the darling of the crowd--with, it turns out, a notable exception, since later that same night his naked, mutilated body is discovered in the deserted bull ring. So, because happenstance put him at the scene, Cámara catches a case he'd much rather have done without. For one thing, his personal life has recently become depressingly distracting. Moreover, it's hard to locate a single citizen in all Valencia who takes bullfighting lightly. Rabid fans of the sport include the commissioner, the mayor and a variety of lesser politicians--all of which, as Cámara knows full well, is tantamount to seeing the case as a potential career-killer. Webster's insights into bullfighting shed light on aspects of the Spanish character, lifting this debut and its bleak and brooding protagonist above the ordinary.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312581831
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jason Webster was born in California and was brought up in England and Germany. After spells in Italy and Egypt, he moved to Spain in 1993, where he was inspired to write a number of highly acclaimed nonfiction titles. He lives near Valencia with his wife, the flamenco dancer, Salud, and their two sons. Visit his Web site at www.jasonwebster.net.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Great ambience but could use some work

    The first third of this book reminded me of Robert Wilson's four superb intertwined mysteries featuring Javier Falcon that were set in Sevilla. Therefore my expectations were getting higher but fell flat during the last third of the book. Mr. Webster does a very fine job of setting the atmosphere of the Valencia fallas but needs to develop both his plot and his characters. He seemed to spend more time describing the Spanish bull fighting mystique than adding depth or intricancy to the story. All being said I will read Mr. Webster's next mystery since it was entertaining.

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a superb Spanish police procedural

    In Valencia, Spain dynamic matador Jorge Blanco has brought a fervor reawakening in bullfighting's popularity. However, not everyone is enamored with Jorge or his sport as many locals find it barbaric and cruel. Politicians rant in favor of banning bullfighting as they believe that is a key ticket to obtaining or remaining in office. However, someone takes the opposition to a new level by recognizing the threat by charismatic popular Blanco.

    In a bulling, the matador's naked corpse is found with darts in his back, a sword in his ribs, and a Spanish flag pulled tightly around his neck. Nobody on the VPD staff wants the volatile high profile homicide investigation assigned to Chief Inspector Max Camara; his plea of a conflict of interest due to being against bullfighting is ignored. A second similar murder occurs increasing the pressure on Camara to solve the case by the same politicians who also demand the inquiry stay away from their election campaigns.

    Or The Bull Kills You is a superb Spanish police procedural starring a somewhat cynical dedicated cop who steps into the bullring, a place he loathes. The country's culture and heritage, the city, the two faced politicians and the sport provide strong pillars to a terrific whodunit as Camara feels the fishbowl effect as he works a case from inside the bullring with figuratively everyone in the stands watching his investigation.

    Harriet Klausner

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