Summary and book reviews of Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster

Or the Bull Kills You

A Mystery

By Jason Webster

Or the Bull Kills You
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2011,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2012,
    416 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

"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...

ONE

Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you
- Traditional

Saturday 11th March
Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Valencia Cuerpo Nacional de Policía cast a dark eye over the other guests at the Bar Los Toros, and sniffed.

Stopping by the Jefatura after lunch had been a mistake.

'Cámara, there's no one else around. You'll have to stand in for me.'

The idea had been to run in quickly to see if he was owed any leave. Fallas was coming, Valencia's pyromaniac spring fiesta, and he was hoping to get out of the city until it was over. But he could still hear Pardo's voice as the commissioner raced through the door, his wife waiting for him outside in a taxi with their three-year-old. There had been no time to remind Pardo he knew nothing about bullfighting, or that he hated it: a daughter with suspected meningitis took precedence over everything. Still, someone else could have stepped in. Maldonado, perhaps. He would have revelled in the pomp and glory....

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Beyond Max's sharply drawn character, Webster weaves a finely intricate mystery with political intrigue, social commentary, and sufficient cultural background for those of us unfamiliar with Spain's complex relationship with bullfighting... Despite a couple minute points off for drawing Max too like other fictional crime fighters, Webster's protagonist is strong enough and the narrative well-crafted enough to stand this series debut in good stead among its peers. I really can't wait to read more about Max and Spain.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

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Media Reviews
The New York Times

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 Cámara remains open-minded, if a bit cynical, about the grand follies of his beautiful city.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The well-rounded lead - cynical, willing to bend the rules, emotionally wounded - should be more than capable of sustaining a long series.

Library Journal

With its rapid pace and wonderfully flawed detective, this vibrant novel has tremendous appeal.

The Bookseller

Webster has penned a great book.

Midwest Book Reviews

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

The Guardian (UK)

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 Independent (UK)

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.

Author Blurb Tarquin Hall, author of the Vish Puri mysteries
A sensational debut. Gripping, sexy, and above all, evocative of Spain's dark underbelly, it's a must-read crime novel.

Reader Reviews
luria

Or the Bull Kills You
Very evocative of Spain and the culture of bullfighting. Plot moves well. A worthwhile read.

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The Controversy Over Bullfighting

Bullfighting - drenched in symbolism, embedded in tradition - is as synonymous with Spanish culture as flamenco dancing and paella. It is a centuries-old blood sport to beat all blood sports with its ceremonial battle to the death between man and beast. An uneven playing field? Perhaps. Only recently, thousands of stunned fans, both in person and on television, witnessed as a bull gored then pinned to the ground matador Juan José Padilla, severely injuring his face, eye and head. This happened in Madrid just days after a final bullfight played out in Barcelona, capital of the Catalonia region of Spain, where the sport has recently been banned amid a swirl of controversy.

bullfight

Reportedly, deputies in the local Catalonian parliament ...

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