Review: Sub-Inspector Max Romero of the Granada police force investigates the potentially politically motivated murder of a young Muslim woman in Blood Wedding, the first mystery in this series by P. J. Brooke.
Leila, a graduate student from Edinburgh, had been in Granada interviewing 83-year-old Paula Romero, Max's grandmother, who had lived during the Spanish civil war and had many stories to tell that were not in history books. Leila was only 23 and led a somewhat wilder life than her father would have liked. She dated Hussan, a man who was thought to be a member of a Muslim terrorist group, but also kept company with a few married men. At the time, there was much turmoil in Spain as the country had recently joined forces with England and the United States to support the war in Iraq. The opposition was considerable and vocal. There was also competition and resentment among the various religious groups in and around Granada, between Muslims and Palestinians, the Palestinians and the Christians, the Christians and the Muslims. The police are on constant vigil to uncover terrorist cells and shut them down.
When Leila's body is found, Hussan becomes the first, obvious, and only suspect by the police. She had been seen having a passionate argument near the time and the site of her death. Plus, he was a Muslim whose name was on a list as a possible terrorist. Max, however, wants more proof. In custody, Hussan is tortured and ultimately commits suicide, closing the murder case in the eyes of the authorities. Against orders, however, Max continues his quest, seeking out the married men Leila had been seen with. He is shocked and appalled to find one of the men is his cousin and best friend from childhood, Juan. Leila had insisted that he leave his wife and family for her. He had refused. She threatened to tell all. Did Juan kill Leila? Max can't be sure. He continues his pursuit for the truth, risking not only his job, but his life.
There is a considerable amount of backstory involving the Spanish civil war and the reign of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. While certainly of interest, especially when considered in comparison to the current unrest in Spain, it makes the main plot and its various threads seem overly complicated. Still, at its core, Blood Wedding is not only an intriguing murder mystery but also a beautifully written book with a powerful message, the story of a man who, against all odds, believes in the truth and the basic good of humanity, and a family whose love surmounts all evils.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Blood Wedding.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Blood Wedding for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Darker Night
Soho Constable (Hardcover), September 2010
ISBN-13: 9781569476246; ISBN-10: 1569476241
Location(s) referenced in Blood Wedding: Granada, Spain
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Blood Wedding by P. J. Brooke — A Max Romero Mystery
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: December 2008
List Price: $25.00