MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Or the Bull Kills You

A Mystery

by Jason Webster

Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster X
Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2012, 416 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A debut mystery set in Valencia, Spain about the dark side of the bullfighting world

There is nothing more compelling for a mystery/crime fiction fan like me than a smart but flawed crime fighter. Sherlock Holmes has his cocaine, Philip Marlowe has his booze, Lisbeth Salander has her, well, take your pick. By adding Chief Inspector Max Camara of Spain's Cuerpa Nacional de Policia to this prestigious community, author Jason Webster dares tread on the hallowed ground of masters at characterization. And, by virtue of this fine debut, both he and Max belong there.

First of all, Max, born and raised in a country pretty much defined by bullfighting, intensely dislikes the national sport. This really wouldn't be all that odd for anybody who has adopted 21st Century political correctness. But Max is a cop, a member of an elite national corps of officers that deals with major crimes (e.g. murder) in Spain's biggest cities. It might stand to reason that this thirty-something cop has become inured to the type of violence and bloodshed seen in a bull ring. If anything, Max seems more repulsed by bullfighting than by the human-on-human violence of the brutal murder he is called upon to solve. What's more, Max's objection to bullfighting is not ideological. So when Webster thrusts him into the center of one of the most important bullfights of the season, it is clear that there is more to Max than meets the eye. Good. Add "complicated" to his characteristics.

Of course, Max is a loner with serious relationship and commitment issues. Even though he and lady friend Almudena are trying to conceive - unsuccessfully so far - it appears their relationship is closer to fizzling out. She insists on separate apartments. He doesn't push for cohabitation. They barely speak. And Max remains ambiguous at best over the prospect of being a father. To further complicate matters, the beautiful pro-bullfighting journalist, Alicia Beneyto, presents a potentially dangerous distraction, both personally and professionally.

Finally there is the thing with marijuana. Despite it being illegal, Max enjoys the occasional joint. Unlike his on-again, off-again tobacco cigarette habit, his marijuana use is never seriously in jeopardy. Of course privately he half-heartedly debates whether using it is wise, but in the end we know it is the one thing that cements his ties to his grandfather. The old anarchist, as Max refers to him, grows the stuff on the patio of his rural apartment. And Max makes frequent trips to replenish his stash and bond with his only living relative.

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. There are many beautiful and symbolically illustrative passages such as one in which he describes a fly's looping flight pattern. "It was odd: neither food, nor water, nor searching for other flies appeared to be on its mind, preferring instead to remain trapped in a world of its own making." The metaphor is not lost on Max as it might apply, not only to himself, but to the world in general.

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

This review is from the Or the Bull Kills You. It first ran in the November 3, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Cantoras
    by Carolina De Robertis
    Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis follows five characters who share a house, troubles, joys and parts...
  • Book Jacket: Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of V.
    The Book of V.
    by Anna Solomon
    In ancient Persia, Esther, a young Jewish woman, parades herself in front of the king in a desperate...
  • Book Jacket: How to Be an Antiracist
    How to Be an Antiracist
    by Ibram X. Kendi
    Ibram X. Kendi opens How to Be an Antiracist with a personal story he finds shameful in retrospect, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Girl
    by Dirk Wittenborn

    A riveting tale of deception, vengeance, and power set against the haunting beauty of the Adirondacks.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Voyage of the Morning Light
    by Marina Endicott

    A sweeping novel set aboard a merchant ship sailing through the South Pacific in 1912.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Of Bears and Ballots

An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics

A charming account of holding local office with an entertaining, quirky cast of characters.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S Louder T W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.