A brilliant architect of the sophisticated thriller, Robert Wilson brings back Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón in a tale laced with the ubiquitous terrorist threat that has descended upon the modern world, what might be a routine case complicated by broader implications.
When a horribly disfigured body is found in a local dump in Seville, the face burned off with acid and the hands surgically removed, recognition is virtually impossible: “The unidentifiable corpse was like a neurosis.” Falcón approaches the case with his usual thoroughness, but an explosion levels and entire apartment building nearby, government agency and media attention immediately shifting to the more dramatic event.
A horror all too familiar since the Madrid bombings, the explosion is thought to have originated in a neighborhood mosque, exacerbating the usual turf wars of anti-terrorist agencies, who create an internecine chaos all their own. Falcón fights to retain control of the investigation, Juez Esteban Calderon assigned to the bombing case as well, interfacing brilliantly with the public sector.
Given the pressure of the citizens’ response when threatened by terrorism in any guise, the investigative process is retarded by internal entanglements and agency distrust. Falcón maintains that the body is in some way connected to the bombing, a position that brings criticism from the agencies who are anxious to move on to the next phase.
Falcón has a history with Calderon, who has been married for four years to the inspector’s ex-wife, Inés. While the charismatic Calderon skillfully steers the volatile debate in the public arena, his influence is short-lived as a murderous temperament surfaces, complicating Falcón’s life in unexpected ways. Despite the emotional blow suffered at Calderon’s hands, the Inspector refuses to go off point in the investigation.
Since we first met the serious, honorable Falcón in The Blind Man of Seville, his responsibilities have altered; police work has become a hotbed of self-serving opportunism under the vast umbrella of anti-terrorism. Sensitive to the delicate links between religious zeal, politics and public policy, Falcón uncovers a morass of moral uncertainty corrupted by hidden agendas.
In a constantly shifting landscape of expediency and Christian and Muslim fundamentalist splinter groups and related interests activated by tragedy, opportunists rush in to take advantage of the chaos and further their own political gains.
All of this goes against the natural grain of Falcón’s psyche, the purity of his intent distorted by personal tragedy, a modern man tormented by the convoluted logic of a terror-obsessed world. Relentless, Falcón clings to the integrity that fuels his existence, his spirit undiminished by violence, a profoundly moral man in an increasingly immoral environment.