A Murder Most Spanish (Domingo Armada Historical Mystery)

Written by Jefferson Bonar
Review by Anna Belfrage

A young man falsely accused of murder, a dark secret that some are willing to protect at all costs, and a world-weary constable determined to find out the truth behind it all – ingredients that promise an interesting whodunnit.

Mr Bonar delivers an intricately wrought plot, where things are not as straightforward as one might think and where even the blandest of faces may hide wells of darkness. The protagonist is one Domingo Armada, a member of the Holy Brotherhood of Granada, who is sent to the usually rather somnolent little town of Salobreña to investigate a gruesome murder. Where everyone in the village has already decided the morisco is guilty, Armada has his doubts.

Mr Bonar has expended a lot of effort on his male characters, giving them in-depth backstories. He is less generous to his leading ladies, and I think the narrative would have been enriched by having at least one female point of view represented. Likewise, at times pace suffers from extended introspective passages. However, Mr Bonar undoubtedly knows how to deliver a complex mystery. He also knows both the geographical setting and the historical background, even if I found the book too much geared towards the crime-solving aspect at the expense of the historical atmosphere. Despite casual references to the 1600s, and despite the odd quote from Calderón de la Barca, I never felt transported back to 17th-century Spain.