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Or the Bull Kills You

Jason Webster ã 4 characters

Irility but should it be a site of national pride or shame'Or the Bull Kills You' has a brilliantly authentic setting and a great detective with a love of flamenco and brandy This is the first of a series of books starring the uirky and forceful Cámara a man clearly destined to make his ma. When you go to a bullfight she explained you're allowing yourself a moment's communion with the Heroic Age the world of Hercules Theseus and the rest So a bull represents where we come from a world we left behind many many centuries ago But it also represents something deeply Spanish And perhaps that is why Spain alone has retained this connection with its ancient bull rituals Think about it the stubbornness of the bull its unwillingness to give in even as pain and suffering is laid upon it And yet still it keeps running keeps charging at the matador Any other animal would crawl away and hide in a corner somewhere That's why the spectacle is uniue You couldn't do this with any other beast Not even an ordinary bull It has to be a toro de lidia a direct descendant of the ancient aurochs But this is why I think we Spanish feel a connection with bulls because we see ourselves in them in their behavior The stubbornness the pride the unwillingness to give in even if we're driving ourselves to our own deaths A bullfighter in the ring This image closely captures my mental pictures of Jorge Blanco the young heroic bullfighter in Webster's offeringMeet Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Valencia police force Cuerpa Nacional de Policía Municipal Put simply in Spain this force deals with major crimes in cities while local forces solve petty crime and manage traffic duties At any rate Cámara is in his mid 40's and spinning his wheels He's passingly competent if not excellent at his job He likes his girlfriend but has shied away from serious commitment He has committed to freuent consumption of alcohol and marijuana He's content but not exactly happy He's shaken from his complacency when the city commissioner Pardo rushes to his door Pardo's frantic with fear that his three year old daughter may have meningitis On the way to the hospital he stops just long enough to ask Cámara to take over his officiating responsibilities at that afternoon's bullfight Despite hating bullfighting almost to the point of being an anti taurino Cámara feels that he has no choice but to agree Jorgo Blanco is without a doubt the star bullfighter of the afternoon The adoration of the fans is palpable Despite his ignorance of the nuances of bullfighting Cámara recognizes Blanco's skill and awards him several trophy ears Later that evening Cámara finds himself at a bar celebrating with aficionados of the sport They are eagerly awaiting Blanco's appearance and are in the beginning stages of inebriation when a rowdy band of protesters leave the organized demonstrators in the streets to enter the bar Cámara finds himself in the role of mediator and has just calmed the opposing sides when a local policeman comes running into the bar short of breath with urgent news Blanco has been found dead ritualistically posed and mutilated in the middle of the bullring As the nearest officer to the scene Chief Inspector Max Cámara has just earned himself the lead investigator role in perhaps the most sensational murder to hit Valencia If that wasn't enough it's election year and the incumbent town major is strongly anti bullfighting She's eager to sweep this mystery under the rug before Blanco's new martyrdom status raises the flagging bullfighting scene to new heights Can Cámara muster the grit and the skill needed to piece the strands of this mystery together Will he take the easy road and agree to make Cámara's male lover the scapegoat Or will he dig deeper into Blanco's connection with prize bull breeder Ramirez Read this interesting story to find out My two cents Webster clearly knows his setting and subject matter I felt instantly transported to Valencia and deftly inserted into their culture The sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases add atmosphere while not being heavy handed enough to bog down the story line for us English speakers There's also a glossary with translations included in the back I enjoyed the character development of Max However I do agree with other reviewers that he meets many of the classic mystery protagonist tropes despite his exotic setting The mystery itself moves at a good pace and the dialogue is decent The ending did feel a bit contrived Overall I give it 35 stars or a rating of Very Good This is an excellent mystery to pick up from the library or a book sale especially for those who like to read books which take place in foreign settings Favorite uotes Far from being concerned that the crime of the year had taken place under his nose on his watch the bullring guard had been interested in complaining about the inconvenience this had caused him Cámara had encountered this kind of thing before one minute competing with the dead man for victim hood the next he'd be down the bar milking it with his mates about having been there 'the night Blanco was butcheredPerhaps it was the shock he thought It could come in waves like this a delayed reaction as the various layers of him registered the violence of what his eyes had seen He never hardened against this not really He'd always thought that a day would come when the sight of murder would cease to drain him so would leave him unaffected like a surgeon happily chopping away at his patients then going back to his family undisturbed by the blood and broken bodies that had filled his day But the moment had never come Perhaps it never would The wounds from the past refused to heal over ready to open up and bleed afresh whenever he witnessed the violence and horror that men could inflict on each otherAll this was as dead skin lingering after the life of their relationship had slithered away in front of him Further reading The history and culture of Valencia as told by Wikipedia write up of Las Fallas or the festival of noise and fire during which Or the Bull Kills You is set finally an incredibly in depth article detailing the history performers rules and cultural significance of bullfighting by Encyclopedia Britannica

Summary Or the Bull Kills You

Tained sand shocks the city of Valencia to its coreAs Cámara hunts his prey through the streets and bars firecrackers echo for the festival of Fallas and the town hall election The anti bullfighting campaigners and the breeders of prize beasts fight to the death The bullring is a test of v. good reading

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Either you kill the bull or the bull kills you' traditional proverbChief Inspector Max Cámara hates bullfighting but one hot afternoon in Valencia he has to judge a festival corrida starring Spain's most famous young matador That night he is back in the ring and what he finds on the bloods. Chief Inspector Max Camara is in the area of the Valencia Bullring when his called to a case of a murdered and mutilated body of a famous matador Jorge Blanco had almost singlehandedly revitalised the Bull Fighting scene with his financial approach to ensuring the sport was really a sport and not a money making racket Where there is money involved there is always corruption at some level or another whether it was the supply of bulls or the experience of the bull fighter or just the punters getting ripped off Into the mix was the fact that Jorge was gay but was getting married to a beautiful actress his artist boyfriend who he kept under wraps his birth father being a total mystery until just before he dies a Mayoress who was trying to outlaw bullfighting and a student group who were having daily protest marches throughout the whole of the Fallas five day festival and as a reader you have a super readPoor old Chief Inspector Max Camara was not the sharpest knife in the box he was an ambling sort of guy who could be relied upon to do the best even though his girlfriend told him he was impotent and his colleagues in the police force appeared to be actively working against him To make things worse his supply of marijuana was low so he had to go to see his father Hilaria in Albecete which he could ill afford timewise to do Rest assured things do get better All very exciting The characters are finely drawn but the whole feel of Valencia was captured so well that it was the place that so captivated me rather than the peopleI really liked the passage that explained the loss of Bianco to thepeople of Spain there is a passage which embraces the whole message ‘ A few people – a solitary man wearing a flat blue corduroy cap and a middle aged couple the woman leaning heavily on her husband’s arm were standing in front of the building with vacant lost expressions on their faces as though trying to understand what had just happened how such a great bullfighting figure had been taken away from them and in a manner which they struggled to understand’ Lovely piece of narrativeI learned lots about definition and culture of bullfighting and also about the different levels of Police Organisation there were in Spain Great read


About the Author: Jason Webster

Jason Webster is a highly acclaimed Anglo American author and authority on Spain whose work ranges from biography to travel crime fiction and history His books have sold in over a dozen countries including the US the UK and China and have been nominated both for the Guardian First Book Award and the Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger Award He has been favourably compared with writer



10 thoughts on “Or the Bull Kills You

  1. says:

    I discovered this book by accident while looking to complete a challenge What a serendipitous find This is the first book featuring Chief Inspector Max Camara who has been asked at the last minute to preside over a bullfight as president of the ring He's less than delighted because he disapproves of bullfighting He becomes mesmerized by the display put on by famous bullfighter Jorge Blanco and accepts an invitation to meet him at a local bar along with many of his friends to celebrate his success When he fails to arrive a search party is sent out and his brutalized body is soon discovered Nobody on the police force wants to investigate this high profile case especially during a volatile election campaign It's assigned to Camara despite his pleas and when a second victim is discovered killed in a similar manner there's even pressure to find the killer There are several possible suspects including Blanco's female fiancee and male boyfriend Camara teams up with Alicia Beneyto a local newspaper correspondent who specializes in bullfighting so he can better understand the whole culture of bullfighting The book's title comes from a Spanish proverb “Either you kill the bull or the bull kills you” The setting of this book is Valencia Spain during Fallas the five day festival of fireworks bonfires and bullfights The author fairly presents both sides of the bullfighting culture including the history and pageantry of both man and bull I really liked Max Camara and have already picked up the second book in the series A Death in Barcelona


  2. says:

    The premise behind the book was appealing to me and it made for a interesting than usual narrative than this kind of book usually lends itself too There's also a fluid writing style to help it be a good page turnerHowever the strange fertilization of bullfighting around the book was weird as well as the main character's own liking of it Cámara also suffers from a certain lack of personality though maybe acceptable considering he is meant to be emotionally numb by his own personal lifeShould be interesting to see if this can develop into an interesting character series or not


  3. says:

    Chief Inspector Max Camara is in the area of the Valencia Bullring when his called to a case of a murdered and mutilated body of a famous matador Jorge Blanco had almost singlehandedly revitalised the Bull Fighting scene with his financial approach to ensuring the sport was really a sport and not a money making racket Where there is money involved there is always corruption at some level or another whether it was the supply of bulls or the experience of the bull fighter or just the punters getting ripped off Into the mix was the fact that Jorge was gay but was getting married to a beautiful actress his artist boyfriend who he kept under wraps his birth father being a total mystery until just before he dies a Mayoress who was trying to outlaw bullfighting and a student group who were having daily protest marches throughout the whole of the Fallas five day festival and as a reader you have a super readPoor old Chief Inspector Max Camara was not the sharpest knife in the box he was an ambling sort of guy who could be relied upon to do the best even though his girlfriend told him he was impotent and his colleagues in the police force appeared to be actively working against him To make things worse his supply of marijuana was low so he had to go to see his father Hilaria in Albecete which he could ill afford timewise to do Rest assured things do get better All very exciting The characters are finely drawn but the whole feel of Valencia was captured so well that it was the place that so captivated me rather than the peopleI really liked the passage that explained the loss of Bianco to thepeople of Spain there is a passage which embraces the whole message ‘ A few people – a solitary man wearing a flat blue corduroy cap and a middle aged couple the woman leaning heavily on her husband’s arm were standing in front of the building with vacant lost expressions on their faces as though trying to understand what had just happened how such a great bullfighting figure had been taken away from them and in a manner which they struggled to understand’ Lovely piece of narrativeI learned lots about definition and culture of bullfighting and also about the different levels of Police Organisation there were in Spain Great read


  4. says:

    good reading


  5. says:

    I've never been to Valencia After reading Jason Webster's Or the Bull Kills You I could have added that city to places I've visited I had a great ten day vacation to Madrid a number of years ago The culture the food the music were all captivating Valencia in the words of the writer offers those joys plus many Max Cámara is not without his flaws and demons but he is an excellent detective He takes his share of lumps but just jumps back into the assigned investigations The author has given the reader several scenarios to keep in mind for future novels in this series


  6. says:

    This is a really great series of crime novels featuring Inspector Max Camara Set in the Spanish city of Valencia Jason Webster manages to bring to life the city and it's people In the first Max finds himself investigating the murder of bullfighter who has become an icon within the world of bullfighting Camara finds his life being dragged through the gutters by unknown people his investigation is blocked again and again and a long term relationship is being tested to the limit If you love Eurocrime this is a must read series


  7. says:

    When you go to a bullfight she explained you're allowing yourself a moment's communion with the Heroic Age the world of Hercules Theseus and the rest So a bull represents where we come from a world we left behind many many centuries ago But it also represents something deeply Spanish And perhaps that is why Spain alone has retained this connection with its ancient bull rituals Think about it the stubbornness of the bull its unwillingness to give in even as pain and suffering is laid upon it And yet still it keeps running keeps charging at the matador Any other animal would crawl away and hide in a corner somewhere That's why the spectacle is uniue You couldn't do this with any other beast Not even an ordinary bull It has to be a toro de lidia a direct descendant of the ancient aurochs But this is why I think we Spanish feel a connection with bulls because we see ourselves in them in their behavior The stubbornness the pride the unwillingness to give in even if we're driving ourselves to our own deaths A bullfighter in the ring This image closely captures my mental pictures of Jorge Blanco the young heroic bullfighter in Webster's offeringMeet Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Valencia police force Cuerpa Nacional de Policía Municipal Put simply in Spain this force deals with major crimes in cities while local forces solve petty crime and manage traffic duties At any rate Cámara is in his mid 40's and spinning his wheels He's passingly competent if not excellent at his job He likes his girlfriend but has shied away from serious commitment He has committed to freuent consumption of alcohol and marijuana He's content but not exactly happy He's shaken from his complacency when the city commissioner Pardo rushes to his door Pardo's frantic with fear that his three year old daughter may have meningitis On the way to the hospital he stops just long enough to ask Cámara to take over his officiating responsibilities at that afternoon's bullfight Despite hating bullfighting almost to the point of being an anti taurino Cámara feels that he has no choice but to agree Jorgo Blanco is without a doubt the star bullfighter of the afternoon The adoration of the fans is palpable Despite his ignorance of the nuances of bullfighting Cámara recognizes Blanco's skill and awards him several trophy ears Later that evening Cámara finds himself at a bar celebrating with aficionados of the sport They are eagerly awaiting Blanco's appearance and are in the beginning stages of inebriation when a rowdy band of protesters leave the organized demonstrators in the streets to enter the bar Cámara finds himself in the role of mediator and has just calmed the opposing sides when a local policeman comes running into the bar short of breath with urgent news Blanco has been found dead ritualistically posed and mutilated in the middle of the bullring As the nearest officer to the scene Chief Inspector Max Cámara has just earned himself the lead investigator role in perhaps the most sensational murder to hit Valencia If that wasn't enough it's election year and the incumbent town major is strongly anti bullfighting She's eager to sweep this mystery under the rug before Blanco's new martyrdom status raises the flagging bullfighting scene to new heights Can Cámara muster the grit and the skill needed to piece the strands of this mystery together? Will he take the easy road and agree to make Cámara's male lover the scapegoat? Or will he dig deeper into Blanco's connection with prize bull breeder Ramirez? Read this interesting story to find out My two cents Webster clearly knows his setting and subject matter I felt instantly transported to Valencia and deftly inserted into their culture The sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases add atmosphere while not being heavy handed enough to bog down the story line for us English speakers There's also a glossary with translations included in the back I enjoyed the character development of Max However I do agree with other reviewers that he meets many of the classic mystery protagonist tropes despite his exotic setting The mystery itself moves at a good pace and the dialogue is decent The ending did feel a bit contrived Overall I give it 35 stars or a rating of Very Good This is an excellent mystery to pick up from the library or a book sale especially for those who like to read books which take place in foreign settings Favorite uotes Far from being concerned that the crime of the year had taken place under his nose on his watch the bullring guard had been interested in complaining about the inconvenience this had caused him Cámara had encountered this kind of thing before one minute competing with the dead man for victim hood the next he'd be down the bar milking it with his mates about having been there 'the night Blanco was butcheredPerhaps it was the shock he thought It could come in waves like this a delayed reaction as the various layers of him registered the violence of what his eyes had seen He never hardened against this not really He'd always thought that a day would come when the sight of murder would cease to drain him so would leave him unaffected like a surgeon happily chopping away at his patients then going back to his family undisturbed by the blood and broken bodies that had filled his day But the moment had never come Perhaps it never would The wounds from the past refused to heal over ready to open up and bleed afresh whenever he witnessed the violence and horror that men could inflict on each otherAll this was as dead skin lingering after the life of their relationship had slithered away in front of him Further reading The history and culture of Valencia as told by Wikipedia write up of Las Fallas or the festival of noise and fire during which Or the Bull Kills You is set finally an incredibly in depth article detailing the history performers rules and cultural significance of bullfighting by Encyclopedia Britannica


  8. says:

    Having just spent a wonderful week in Seville with my daughter and having toured its majestic plaza de toros I fell into this book with abandon I am not a huge mystery fan I tend toward thrillers and historical fiction I decided to give this a try due to its locale On that front I was not disappointed I learned so much about bullfighting its history the rationale behind it the reasons why the Spaniards refuse to let it die etc Coupled with what I learned in the Seville plaza I felt truly enmeshed in the sport of bullfighting I also loved the descriptions of Valencia from its food to its people and most of all the annual fallas the main festival held in March that is punctuated with fireworks and statues una falla of wood and papier mache that are burned down on March 19th Valencia burst into life from the pagesbut that is where the life in this book stopped for me The mystery itself a gruesome murder of a star matador was terribly uninteresting the detective Max Camara is a drinking and smoking fiend whose personal life is a disaster and whom not too many people like The solving of the mystery plods along slowly and I struggled to finish the book I recommend it for those who are interested in learning about life in Southern Spain and especially bullfighting this novel will not disappoint


  9. says:

    A bull fighter is found dead and then crimes follow Max Camara Chief Inspector comes into play to solve this mystery while Jason Webster takes the reader through a journey of spanish traditions and bull fights My impression was that Webster tries desperately to give this feeling of degradation that exists in all sucessful neo noir novels However for my taste he's overdoing it and not succeeding as most of the times it feels biased and even the plot twists seem forced The main character is uite interesting but after a while becomes a moving stereotype with every aspect of his life being ruined Still I think there's potential and therefore I'll read the next novels of the series hoping for the above to be diminishedBottom line A enjoyable read without many things to get excited about I hope the next books are better


  10. says:

    PROTAGONIST Chief Inspector Max CamaraSETTING Valencia SpainSERIES #1 of 5RATING 325WHY In the city of Valencia Spain there are strong forces both for and against bull fighting an event which has always dominated the scene When possibly the best bull fighter of all time Jorge Blanco is murdered the sentiment sways back to the pro forces Chief Inspector Max Camara on the anti side is assigned to head the investigation He is pressed for a uick result but finds things getting and complicated as Blanco’s manager is killed and then his fiancée The depiction of the culture is strong particularly around Fallas an annual festival that takes over the city The general plot though is pretty standard fare and overly long


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