*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author, Claire Maxwell of Maxwell PR and Burro Books. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: When 33-year-old Isabel Flores Montserrat quits her promising career with the Spanish police to run her mother’s holiday rentals agency in rural Mallorca, her crime-fighting days seem far behind.
Basking in the Mediterranean sunshine with pet ferret Furó, she indulges her passion for local cuisine, swimming in the sea and raising her pampered hens.
However, in just a few days, the disappearance of a young British girl, violent murder of an elderly neighbour, and discovery of a Colombian drug cartel threaten to tear apart Isabel’s idyllic life.
Together with local chief inspector Tolo Cabot, an old admirer of her unorthodox methods, Isabel must race against the clock to untangle a sinister web of crime and restore peace to the island once more.
This book, the first in a planned series of Isabel Flores Mallorcan mysteries, is saturated with the colours, scents and sounds of the Mediterranean island.
Not only is the setting rich with Spanish heat, flora and fauna, but the narrative is enriched with the language, food, cultural mores and relaxed pace of life that come to the mind when thinking of the Mediterranean way of life. It provided a welcome blast of sunshine for this reader in a cold, grey UK November!
The story follows Isabel, who has retired from the police force to run her mother’s estate agency on the island, as she traverses the island, dipping in the sea, sipping in local cafés, and chatting to everyone – local or incomer. Oh, and uncovering a plethora of secrets as she goes!
It seems Isabel has an unnatural talent for knowing when people are hiding something, which stands her in good stead in the sudden crime wave that hits her sleepy small town. First a young girl is abducted when her mother’s back is turned, then a pious old man is brutally murdered, and that’s not to mention the vibrant drug trade that seems to be thriving around every corner. So Isabel and her reluctant assistant Pep have their work cut out for them. Especially as it’s not strictly speaking their work at all!
Between keeping up with her day job and solving the police’s cases for them, Isabel also finds time to investigate side quests, such as what is going on with her mysterious reclusive renter, and what were some young locals unloading from their boat in the early hours; swim regularly with her ferret Furó; and avoid potential romance from a persistent journalistic suitor and a reticent best friend, who also happens to be chief inspector.
I had no idea how Isabel was solving her cases if I’m honest, as it seemed that everywhere she looked she spotted a conspiracy or secret, and I just couldn’t keep up with her. Much like the police and Pep though, I was happy to just go along for the ride and admire her many talents whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.
I would definitely recommend this for fans of ‘gentle’ mystery stories and would say that it would make a fantastic beach read, but can also brighten up a chilly winter day!
Pep fiddled with a pen on his desk. ‘You know your problem? You still think you’re a cop.’
‘Inspector, if you please.’
‘You see! You miss it. All the excitement, the drug crime and murders.’
‘You have a fertile imagination, Pep. Police work is mostly routine.’
‘Maybe, but you have to admit that you loved all the action stuff as a cop on the mainland. When you came to Mallorca it must have seemed so boring.’
‘Not at all, life was never dull when I served with the Policía Nacional in Palma.’
Pep sighed. ‘The problem is that nothing ever happens here. What we need is a good grisly murder.’
Isabel offered him a pert smile. ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ She hesitated. ‘Actually, I prefer my life now. I have my own business, good money and total freedom. What more could a woman want?’
– Anna Nicholas, The Devil’s Horn
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