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A Dead Man in Barcelona
Fifth book in the Seymour of Special Branch series

by Michael Pearce

      After being somewhat disappointed in this series compared to the authorís Mamur Zapt series, which I adore, A Dead Man in Barcelona has made me a convert. Earlier books just didnít strike me with the same joi de vivre based in the absurdities of daily life as the best of the Mamur Zapt series. You could see similarities between the heroes, but with Seymour the much more subdued, less sophisticated, less experienced younger brother. A big part of the pleasure with the Mamur Zapt series is in viewing events through the heroís own appreciative enjoyment of whatís going on around him. Well, younger brother has grown up and is coming into his own.

Seymour grew up near the East London docks, amongst a variety of immigrants, with a natural talent for languages and plenty of opportunity to practice. As a result, heís been seconded from his job with the Metropolitan Police to various hot spots around the world where his unique combination of language skills and investigatory skill are needed.

Sam Lockhart, an expatriate English-born businessman based in Gibraltar, has been found murdered...†in the Barcelona jail cell where he was left after being picked up as part of a Catalan protest.†Actually that happened a couple of years ago, but the local authorities are doing an excellent job of failing to progress in their investigations, while regional politics are making the circumstances of his death a subject of increasing interest. Why was he killed? Why was he even there? Seymour and his Deputy Commissioner agree that it really doesnít sound their sort of investigation, but the Foreign Office and Navy are insistent. Meanwhile Seymour has his own reasons for wanting to go, involving proximity to Tangier where Chantale, the woman he thinks he wants to marry, lives.

This was a fun, fast read, with a lot of humor based in observations about people just being people. The writing style is smooth and light, very easy to swallow. While part of a series, it works well as a standalone, although I am going to have to go back and read the prior book I missed, to find out more about Seymour and his Chantale.†Still, if you havenít tried this series or didn't enjoy earlier entries that much, this would be a great place to pick things up.

The Book

Soho Constable
December 2008
Historical Mystery [Barcelona, Spain 1912]
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2009
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