I remember a college professor that said when you are reading Don Quixote and he meets a peasant, merchant, or traveler and they start talking politics, then skip to the end of that chapter. I felt like that. Also, in a book this length, I think that a writer should stage exciting events mini-climaxes along the way to keep the reader moving along. One the other hand, if you are a history buff and know this period or want to learn about it, then you will most likely enjoy the novel. Reverte certainly knows what he is writing about and he is a very skilled writer.
For me, I liked his other novels better. View 1 comment. Not Perez-Reverte's best, but still an entertaining read. Set during the early 19th century, the story centers on the two-year long French siege of the Spanish port city of Cadiz during the Nepoleonic Wars. The descriptions of the politics of the time and of artillery tactics and technology should satisfy the history buff.
Coincident with the historical account is a separate story-line involving a series of gruesome murders within the city and the police detective charged with catching the kille Not Perez-Reverte's best, but still an entertaining read. Coincident with the historical account is a separate story-line involving a series of gruesome murders within the city and the police detective charged with catching the killer.
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Here, the book tended to bog down and the ending was not as satisfying as one would hope. Not as good as I expected, but entertaining enough to keep me reading and to eke out three stars. There's a lot of detail describing various parts of living in Cadiz during the French siege of A series of brutal murders, some fighting scenes between the forces, descriptions of shipping and trading, taxidermy, torture, the science of artillery, biology and piracy are all covered. Principally it is a murder mystery but this seems to be an aside to the almost history book of the rest of the story.
I really thought this one was going to end brilliantly. I'm used to trudging through long books containing multiple, seemingly unrelated storylines that converge into something amazing at the end. Around the page mark I thought this is what was happening. I had struggled to find any interest in the characters, the world, the plot but I felt it would pay off in the end.
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What actually happened was something like the sound of a balloon flatulently deflating. The detective wasn't terribly b The detective wasn't terribly bright. The "killer" wasn't an exciting reveal.
The explanation behind the locations of the killings wasn't fully fleshed out and wasn't interesting. The French captain wound up being an almost unnecessary side-plot. It was necessary to the overarching plot, but the author didn't need to dedicate the time he did to this character. Everything was disappointing. I was left rereading the last couple pages a couple times wondering if I missed something. I'm just disappointed. Skip this one. Life is too short. A long read that feels like an immense one.
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The story is sodden with maritime minutiae and nautical terminology; no doubt fascinating to some, vocabulary-expanding for others, but most may feel the desire to chuck the book into the depths of Davey Jones's locker. The novel's most compelling aspect is its most conventional: the search for a serial killer. This plays out perfunctorily until the culprit's apprehension, with only his punishment meriting brief, mild interest.
Finely written or at le A long read that feels like an immense one. Finely written or at least translated, from the original Spanish , this is a ponderous, prolix, literary historical novel which will be catnip to aficionados of ponderous, prolix, literary historical novels. View all 5 comments. I liked the way this book transported me to a place and time I had known nothing about - Cadiz under siege by the French imperial army. The different characters brought lots of detail of trade, seafaring and long-distance cannon-fire. Interesting and engaging throughout.
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I'd give this 3. I really enjoyed the process of reading it although there are quite long sections that are a little technical in their detail and thus a bit OTT for a layman. I also found the many different sub-plots and the way the book moved around between them well done, keeping the story fresh all the way through. The ending could have done with a bit more "oomph".
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I felt there was so much build up and just not enough "ending". Also, the crime investigation, which I thought initially I'd give this 3. Also, the crime investigation, which I thought initially was the main plot, didn't really work. Nowadays, we think of solving a crime as fairly simple thanks to forensic science and other modern methods. Comisario Tizon, in Cadiz, has none of those tools and is faced with trying to track down a murderer who gruesomely mutilates his victims.
And he has to do so in a city that is being regularly shelled by Napoleonic French forces. A city in which people are trying to continue their daily life as if nothing is going on, as if there is no danger of a bomb hitting their house and bringing Nowadays, we think of solving a crime as fairly simple thanks to forensic science and other modern methods.
A city in which people are trying to continue their daily life as if nothing is going on, as if there is no danger of a bomb hitting their house and bringing it down on their heads. Perez-Reverte and translator Frank Wynne do an excellent job in bringing to life the reality of life in Napoleonic-era Spain. You can visualise locations, the characters and ships. You glimpse the psychology of an officer obsessed with solving this case, worrying that the public will turn on him if he cannot stop more girls being killed. There are a number of characters in this novel who you come to care for even as you wonder whether some of them could be the murderer.
And many of those characters have their own obsessions - Tizon with this case, Lolita Palma with her shipping business and Desfosseux who treats his artillery guns as if they were his own children as he works to improve their capabilities. In that respect, the novel can also be seen as a study of the nature and effects of obsession on people, both for good and for bad. It's a very engrossing book, difficult to put down once you pick it up.
I recommend it to anyone who likes either crime novels or historical fiction. The core of the novel is a series of vicious murders of young girls, being investigated by the brutal Comisario, Rogelio Tizon. Tizon becomes convinced that there is some kind of link between the murders and the French shelling of the city, but is at his wits' end trying to understand it. Perez-Reverte weaves around the story of the murders other plot lines that show how the siege is affecting different parts of Cadiz. A wealthy woman is forced by circumstances to engage in letters of marque with a corsair barely-concealed piracy.
A French intellectual has dedicated himself to solving the physics problem that will allow his artillery to reach the heart of the city. A poor Spaniard fights as a guerrilla to protect what little he has. A taxidermist betrays his country. Through it all, Tizon haunts the streets, desperate to find somebody to arrest and torture into confessing, before his masters decide to use him as a scapegoat.
Perez-Reverte has done a terrific job knitting all this together and making the reality of the siege for both attackers and defenders read authentically. At times the book variously works as a gothic murder mystery, a spy novel, a war story, a story of forbidden love or a pirate adventure.
The problem I have with this is that it sometimes feels as if he has not given enough thought to how to end these various strands. I found most of his resolutions unsatisfactory and unfulfilling, even depressing. Given the amount of time required to read this huge novel, I felt that I was looking for a bigger payoff than the author gives us. Welcome to Cadiz, Spain in For some reason I had put this on a wish list for if I ever bought a kindle, but not having been tempted to the dark side just yet I decided to just buy it in paperback and dive in.
It is perhaps Tizon who can make a small claim on being the star, and we are introduced to him as he is overseeing a prisoner being tortured for information. For some reason this made me weary of him at first, I mean a divorced alcoholic married to the job is one thing, but a torturer? There is a drive behind the Comisario, and the deaths of the young girls haunt him, reminding him of his own lost daughter. Moving away from the window, he returns to the desk. Prowling like an animal in a cage, he realises. And this does not pleas him.
This is not his way.
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Within him he feels a fury, slender and exact, sharp as a dagger. In his professional peace of mind. Three girls murdered in the same way within six months. Fortunately for him Governor Villavicencio cuttingly pointed out some weeks ago, the war and the French siege have meant that such crimes have been relegated to the background.
Each time he sees the mute piano and realises that the murdered girls are almost the same age as the girl who once touched the keys would have been today. Lolita Palma is perhaps my favourite character after the Comisario. Outside the city, and across the lines we hear from the French, most notably Simon Defossuex, an artillery captain who spends the entire novel trying to get his bombs to the far side of Cadiz to finally take down this last bastion of Spanish freedom.