MLA Gold Award Site

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

"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....

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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).

Full Review Members Only (554 words).

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.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

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 ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Or the Bull Kills You, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...
  • Book Jacket: The Mirror Thief
    The Mirror Thief
    by Martin Seay
    It is easy to see why Martin Seay's debut novel, The Mirror Thief, has been compared to David ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.