I am very grateful to Robert Peett at Grey Cells Press, an imprint of Holland House Books, for a copy of Nick Sweet’s ‘The Long Siesta’ in return for an honest review. It was published on 5th September 2015.
When a priest is murdered in a particularly horrific way Luis Velazquez has a difficult crime to solve. But as he struggles with his own demons and the body count rises across Seville, the case gets personal.
‘The Long Siesta’ opens with a startling and graphic murder and the plot races along from that point so that it is impossible to predict what will happen next. Nick Sweet employs an iterative image of bullfighting throughout and his plot mimics the swirls of the cape and the charge of the bull as a metaphor for truth throughout.
It took me 30 or 40 pages to attune to the writing style and at times I found it a little jerky as if it had been over edited. I would occasionally have liked greater development in descriptions and I felt there was too much (probably unintentional) product mention with frequent references to Swatch, Seat Ibiza and Alfa Romeo. That said, I did enjoy the overall structure very much with the division into three parts containing snappy chapters that always ended with a pithy comment or cliffhanger.
Despite the mounting body count and the inclusion of gangsters, assassins, Russian mafia, transvestites, bull-fighting girlfriends and heroin addicted policemen which all combine to create an atmospheric film noir effect, there is also humour and tenderness in the writing which comes particularly through some of the direct speech so that there was a greater credibility to the more aggressive parts.
I thought the research that had gone in to making ‘The Long Siesta’ both geographically and historically accurate was impressive.
The title ‘The Long Siesta’ has left me intrigued. There are so many ways in which it could be said to fit the story – as the past has been sleeping and is now catching up, as death becomes a final sleep for so many, as pivotal to Spanish life for authenticity, in the way characters awaken out of their habits or complacency – that I think I’ll need to reread the book to come to a final conclusion for what it means for me.
Those who love a fast paced crime thriller with a flawed leading policeman will enjoy ‘The Long Siesta’.