The Hidden Assassins
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his is the third in a series featuring Spanish police Inspector Javier Falcón in the beautiful city of Seville, Spain. Since there are quite a few references to events in previous episodes, it would be best to read the books in order. But despite this being my first window into Inspector Javier Falcón's complicated life, I was still able to follow along with characters and events.
t all begins with the discovery of a mutilated corpse, just after Falcón has bumped into the deeply troubled Consuelo Jiménez. After an affair four years before, she '
left her imprint on him
'. Now '
the closed shrine in his mind devoted to her had been reopened
' and he wants her back in his life. The body - found in a bin - has been scalped, the face burnt off with acid, and the hands severed - identification will be a challenge!
alcón and his subordinates - good-looking Emilio Pérez and ex-nun Cristina Ferrera - follow the slightest lead in an attempt to find out, not just why the man was murdered, but what other secrets his identity might unveil. In parallel with this painstaking police work, we see Consuelo in crisis, reluctantly consulting the very insightful blind psychologist Alicia Aguago, who previously helped Javier.
nother major player is a charismatic, highly successful judge, Juez Esteban Calderón. He's married to Falcón's ex-wife Inés, a beautiful and brilliant prosecutor, and in the midst of an affair with a sensual artist, Marisa. Their triangle of abuse and obsession steadily disintegrates through the novel. There is also charming right wing politician Angel Zarrías, partner of Falcón's self-centered sister Manuela. Angel works in a PR capacity for a small, very conservative political party, Fuerza Andalucía.
hen comes the explosion. An apartment building, with a mosque in the basement (whose Imam was '
on the terror suspect database
'), blows up and four small children in a pre-school are amongst the casualties. Many assume this to be an act of Islamic terrorism, but the picture is not clear to Falcón, who looks into all angles. In addition to heading the investigation into the blast, Falcón is pressed by his country's security service to enlist his Moroccan friend Yacoub Diouri in spying for them on radical elements at his mosque.
s he digs through the rubble of motivations and prior events, Falcón finds a company, Informáticalidad, with similarities to a religious sect, and whose staff had oddly cycled through an apartment near the bombed building over the past few months. There's also a website '
designed to show that Islam is a religion of hate
'. The Inspector wonders if mosque members were the targets, rather than the perpetrators. But a copy of the Koran - that's '
a terrorist network's codebook
' - also shows up.
s if this weren't complex enough, Wilson throws into the mix a high profile murder, the suicide of an intelligence agent, and the possibility of a jihadist plot aimed at a major European city. There's a lot going on in this meaty psychological thriller, but Robert Wilson pulls it all together in a satisfying ending that also offers hope for Falcón's ongoing pursuit of Consuelo.
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