Monday's Book: The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte (trans. Sonia Soto) Harvill, pounds 10.99
Monday 13 April 1998
The church, Quart discovers, is already doomed. An unholy alliance between the archbishop and a land-hungry bank has long since settled its fate. The vice-chairman of the bank, a dashing, designer-suited piranha, has delegated the resolution of minor problems to Seville's criminal fraternity. All that stands in the way of the church's destruction are an uncouth little parish priest and his curate, a widowed duchess and her beautiful daughter, an American nun, a dwindling congregation and - well, maybe - the church itself.
But who is Vespers? Were the two deaths in the church as accidental as the police believe? This is Seville, and even the questions are less straightforward than they seem. Hot, old and beautiful, the city is full of ghosts. Quart is haunted by his predecessors as Papal hard men, the crusading Knights Templar, and by unfinished business in his own past. And there's the duchess's long-dead aunt, a woman whom love drove mad and whose correspondence finds its way, a century later, to Quart's hotel room.
Nor are Quart's flesh-and-blood problems any easier to handle. The archbishop dislikes him. The old priest is obdurate, and the curate violent. Quart needs all his self-discipline to cope with the disturbing allure of the duchess's daughter, who is also, as it happens, the estranged wife of the predatory banker.
Quart is followed by a bogus lawyer, a retired bullfighter and an alcoholic flamenco singer. As the plot twists through the labyrinthine streets of Seville, he becomes increasingly uncertain which mystery he is attempting to solve. The real enigmas lie within: the dark secrets of his own heart and the nature of faith in the modern world.
Classy and brimming with panache, The Seville Communion is much more than a witty, well-constructed entertainment, just as Quart is no ordinary detective but a sexy soldier of Christ armed with a gold card and a laptop computer. As The Flanders Panel and The Dumas Club have already shown, Perez-Reverte has a refreshing ability to escape from the formulae of crime fiction without sacrificing the genre's reader-friendly virtues. He uses this crime novel to launch an ambitious investigation which is as much metaphysical and theological as forensic. Yet he always plays by rules: only in the very last sentence do we learn the identity of the murderer.
Life & Style blogs
Snapchat removed the Best Friends list feature and 'stalkers' are upset
Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Eight-year-old girl Camilla Lisant suggests possible cure for cancer to her scientist father
Scandal of doctors who get cash from healthcare firms for patient referrals
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...