The Reluctant Matador
A Hugo Marston Mystery by Mark Pryor
Review: American Embassy security chief Hugo Marston had arranged a lunch with Amy Dreiss, the daughter of a close friend, but when she doesn't show he assumes she simply got caught up in seeing her new home of Paris and had forgotten. But when Bart Denum, Amy's stepfather, calls Hugo from Texas to say he hasn't heard from her in a while, Hugo gets worried, and sets out to find her, in The Reluctant Matador, the fifth mystery in this series by Mark Pryor.
Amy had come to Paris to be a model, but Hugo quickly learns that she had been working in a men's club, and was last seen in the company of Rubén Castañeda, a man known to recruit girls for "better" jobs. With his friend Tom Green at his side, Hugo heads off to Spain, where the man was based, only to find Bart Denum standing over the body of the man in his apartment in Barcelona. The police, not surprisingly, arrest Bart and put him jail, but Bartoli Garcia, the detective in charge, is sympathetic to Hugo's task, and agrees to help him find Amy.
The mystery plot here consists of two primary threads: who killed Castañeda and where is Amy Dreiss. Unfortunately both threads are weakly conceived and developed and neither really captures the reader's attention or imagination. Much of the problem here is that considerable — far too much — attention is paid to the interpersonal dynamics between Hugo and Tom Green, and while Hugo is fine as a series-leading character, Tom Green simply isn't all that likeable in his supporting role. He adds very little to the investigation and more often than not one wonders why Hugo puts up with him. Indeed, towards the end Hugo leaves Tom out of participating in a key development, as if he finally realizes (too late) that Tom is excess baggage on this trip to Barcelona. To its credit, the Barcelona setting provides a colorful backdrop to the action, which moves along briskly, and the intelligent and perceptive Detective Garcia is a welcome counterpart to the bumbling Tom Green. The previous books in this series are generally cleverly plotted and really quite entertaining, so it's all the more disappointing that The Reluctant Matador fails to match them in either of these regards.
Acknowledgment: Seventh Street Books provided an ARC of The Reluctant Matador for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Button Man
Seventh Street Books (Trade Paperback), September 2014
ISBN-13: 9781616149949; ISBN-10: 1616149949
Seventh Street Books (Trade Paperback), September 2015
ISBN-13: 9781633880863; ISBN-10: 1633880869
Location(s) referenced in The Reluctant Matador: Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain
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The Reluctant Matador by Mark Pryor — A Hugo Marston Mystery
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 2015
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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