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I think it was back in 2004 that I discovered Robert Wilson. Everybody had been raving about The Blind Man of Seville and eventually I got my hands on a copy. What I read was a gem and the bar was raised; this was certified chocolatier writing and not Galaxy bar. Some other authors then seemed bland and formulaic: Enid Blyton with added gore for adults. (I subsequently left them on the shelves.) This was the start of a quartet and I continued reading and enjoying. And now comes the fourth and final – The Ignorance of Blood – a novel I couldn’t wait to read, couldn’t wait to finish, but also didn’t want to finish. Reading completed, I have to admit to what was a 24hr period of literary mourning; whatever came next was not going to live up to this novel, and the wonderful character of Javier Falcón deserved a respectful period of silence.
Appropriately, where Consuelo entered Falcón’s life in The Blind Man of Seville as he investigated the death of her restaurateur husband – and she’s been in and out of his life since – the quartet ends with a story centred on Falcón and Consuelo, now with two lives so intermingled as to have become a tentative one. The Ignorance of Blood opens with Falcón having publicly promised to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Seville terrorist bombing, seen in The Hidden Assassins. This he is pursuing until a phone call throws another case in his path. A very nasty motorway accident has led to the discovery of a few million euros in the boot of a car and the Russian mafia appears to be involved.
Falcón is suddenly immersed in the investigation of a turf war over prostitution and drugs. Through the kidnap of Consuelo’s youngest son, Falcón is personally targeted by the mafia as they seek to retrieve their bounty, although he does not know which group is responsible. Alongside, Falcón’s friend Yacoub, who spies for the Spanish government, entrusts Falcón with the knowledge of how he is being blackmailed by Islamist extremists.
Everyone’s mettle is tested to severe limits, not least those of Falcón, Consuelo and Yacoub. Behind the plot, the running theme becomes one of protecting one’s children, the limits to which parents will run and the sacrifices they are prepared to make. Falcón surprises himself with his reactions and the actions he feels forced to take.
Wilson has a great ability to facilitate a reader seeing the victims’ point of view and The Ignorance of Blood is no exception. Along the way, we experience the horrifying lack of humanity in how the mafia values human life and how it uses it, and ends it, to simply send a message.
With the usual intricate plotting that readers have come to expect from Wilson, The Ignorance of Blood also makes for a highly charged emotional read. Some elements of the ending may prove satisfactory, but it is not without loss and the white flowers of the dead will be on your mind.
Readers of the quartet will be fully engrossed in this novel. Readers new to Wilson will have four excellent literary thrillers to encounter.
You can’t rush a Falcón as every word counts. I estimate that I spent approx. 14 hrs reading this novel. In times of recession, that works out at about £1.28 per hour, if you pay the full price for the hardback, and what value! So get reading and don’t miss Falcón.
The Ignorance of Blood was published by HarperCollins on 5 March. And don’t forget the three previous novels in this quartet, if you haven’t caught up with Falcón yet. In order from the start they are:
Crime and thriller writers don’t come better than this.