THE AMBIGUITY OF MURDER by Roderic Jeffries
AN INSPECTOR ALVAREZ MYSTERY
St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2001
A Bolivian diplomat is found dead in his swimming pool and Inspector Alvarez is called in to investigate. Mallorca, Spain customs are easy-going and Alvarez certainly typifies this, but he is also persistent. Several people had ample reason to kill Guido Zavala. The man had a temper, was cruel to his servants, was having an affair with a married woman, and had driven a local builder to the point of bankruptcy. Of the potential killers, though, which, if any actually did the deed.
Alvarez has to deal with a moody wife, a supervisor who always finds something wrong with Alvarez's reports (often rightly), and a habit of enjoying frequent glasses of brandy and siestas as he investigates. The first two of these problems, at least, end up being helpful as well as distracting. Alvarez seems to plod along, willing to be seen as incompetent, but determined to find the truth, so long as it doesn't get in the way of a good meal and another glass of brandy.
Possibly the best way to describe THE AMBIGUITY OF MURDER is witty. Author Roderic Jeffries (see BooksForABuck.com reviews of other novels by this author) enjoys describing life on Mallorca, the slow-moving, heavy drinking, yet persistent Inspector Alvarez, and the dialogue between Alvarez, his suspects, his boss, and his sharp-tongued cousin. Alvarez becomes a very real person, one you'd enjoy having another drink with on a lazy afternoon (he would probably have started in the morning). The mystery too is first-rate. Jeffries dangles new findings before the reader, only to snatch them away when they're ready to decide who was actually to blame.
I recommend THE AMBIGUITY OF MURDER without reservation. It is a pleasure to savor--like a fine brandy, perhaps.
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