(10. - 1082.) Water-Blue Eyes by Domingo Villar translated by Martin Schifino (2006) - Inspector Caldas is weary. He has just endured participating in the Patrol on the Air radio show listening to the calls from fellow disgruntled Galician citizens in and around Vigo. On his return to the office Caldas is sent to investigate a murder.
The victim is Luis Reigosa, a 34 year old musician. Reigosa played the saxophone, listened to jazz music, read crime fiction and trusted a lover who tied him to his bed and cruelly tortured him to death. There is significant detail of the damage to the body concentrating on the genitals. His water-blue eyes are wide open.
Caldas equally loves jazz. His prefers classic jazz performers.
Aiding the inspector is the massive Rafael Estévez, involuntarily transferred from Zaragosa. He has a quick temper and the Galician talent for ambiguity constantly frustrates him. Interviewing the cleaner who discovered the body, a “youthful sixty-four” year old woman, sets him boiling with answers of “more or less” and “[I]t was pretty much as it says there, yes” and “[I]t might have been roughly the way you describe it”.
Both experienced police officers and myself were stunned by the bizarre, extremely painful, means of murder.
I appreciated that they are officers who take time for a meal of fresh sardines and potatoes and local cheeses washed down with a jug of local white wine. Too many fictional sleuths are too driven to stop for a nice meal.
Caldas is dismayed that the popularity of Patrol on the Air means he is known as the radio policeman. Estévez is amused by the discontent of his superior.
As Reigosa was gay the investigation takes the inspector into the gay community. Caldas has but a little knowledge of gay life in Vigo.
The investigation is guided by evidence and the clever mind of Caldas willing to trust instincts honed by years of experience.
The plot moves smoothly. The characters are interesting. The detail on the murder was very graphic and clearly intended to shock. While I did not find the detail exploitive I hope the next book is frank about murder but less gruesome in the particulars.
In a refreshing change from the current fashion for 300 page to 400 page to even longer novels, Villar wrote a fine mystery in 167 pages. I shall read the second.
Jose Ignacio at his fine blog, The Game's Afoot, has a review of the book and biographical information on Villar