Fancy a little respite from the dreary bank holiday weekend UK weather? Fancy a little respite from those cool Scandinavians? Jason Webster’s CWA John Creasey (New Blood) longlisted Or the Bull Kills You will provide just that and transport you to sunny Spain (faster and cheaper than easyJet and with real oranges from Valencia). Or the Bull Kills You is the start of a series and introduces Chief Inspector Max Cámara.
When his boss can’t make that afternoon’s corrida, the bullfighting-hating Cámara is forced to step in as his replacement in the presidential role. Jorge Blanco is the star of the afternoon and later, he is to be given an award. But later for Blanco finds him naked and dead in the middle of an empty, unlit bullring. And the duty officer at the Jefatura is clear ‘It’s your murder, Cámara.’
Webster’s plot plays out against a backdrop of active anti-bullfighting campaigners gathering pace in their mission, breeders of prize bulls fighting their corner, an impending town hall election and the spring festival of Fallas just days away. Cámara makes for an interesting protagonist where he is surely the first detective to be concerned with his sperm count (his pot-smoking probably doesn’t help). And here, we also have a good juxtaposition with Webster’s explanation of bullfighting hitting its core of sexuality-inspired activity.
I can’t credit Webster enough here. I had no interest in bullfighting and yet he drew me in and educated me, from both sides of the argument, while entertaining me. Webster’s tale puts the vibrancy of Valencia on the map. And the writing is superb: Or the Bull Kills You should find its way onto the shelves of those who have devoured Robert Wilson’s Falcon quartet and the best of Andrew Taylor. Webster’s prose is something to get your teeth into, with more muscle than the bulls of which he writes.