Southern Seas by Manuel Vazquez Montalban (another thumbs down)

I didn’t think I could find a book I disliked as much as Eat, Love, Pray (my review for that book may be found here) but…

First allow me to share the book description, the part which sparked my initial interest:

“Barcelona detective Pepe Carvalho’s radical past catches up with him when a powerful businessman—a patron of artists and activists—is found dead after going missing for a year.
In search of the spirit of Paul Gauguin, Stuart Pedrell—eccentric Barcelona businessman, construction magnate, dreamer, and patron of poets and painters—disappeared not long after announcing plans to travel to the South Pacific.

A year later he is found stabbed to death at a construction site in Barcelona. Gourmand gumshoe Pepe Carvalho is hired by Pedrell’s wife to find out what happened.”

Ok….you can see where one might find appeal in reading about the South Pacific as well as enjoying a good mystery. It starts off in Barcelona. I have been to Barcelona many, many years ago and I very much enjoyed roaming Las Ramblas, checking out Chris Columbus in the harbor, eating local chow. I’d hoped this book would be a revisit of sorts.

It starts off with a swearing dwarf who is intent on getting laid, him marching into a bar and hooking up with a “lady” and two friends. They proceed to steal a car, drive wildly through the streets of Barcelona spilling drink everywhere and promptly have an accident. So far I wasn’t invested with the plot.

Pepe Carvalho is a detective and star of the book, him having quite the appreciation for good food and wine. He is fat, bald, drinks too much and with all these positive points, the ladies love him. Huh.

There are sex scenes, there is a great description of a hangover, lots of stream of consciousness and mentions of food. But I didn’t like it. Ok, I didn’t dislike it as much as Eat, Love, Pray…but I didn’t like it. Not one character spoke to me, couldn’t connect.

Perhaps it’s something in the translation from Spanish to English…..maybe someone liked this book. And for the record, I always feel a little bad trashing a book because hey…I haven’t written a book. Well not one that’s been published. I am not doing my dream job of editing and reviewing books for a living. So…..hey….kudos for getting published Mr. Montalban. But that’s the only compliment I can hand out. Sorry, man.

Note: There are 19 Pepe Carvalho books so there are evidently fans of this author.

There is mention of a Spanish prawn and eggplant dish but the one I wanted to prepare is a paella. Coming up….I will prepare a paella and link back to my food blog. In the meantime, check out this Spanish Martin Codax Albarino.

Information about the author:
Born in Barcelona in 1939, MANUEL VÁZQUEZ MONTALBÁN (1939–2003) was a member of Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya (PSUC), and was jailed by the Franco government for four years for supporting a miners’ strike. A columnist for Madrid’s El País, as well as a prolific poet, playwright, and essayist, Vázquez Montalbán was also a well-known gourmand who wrote often about food. He died in 2003 in Thailand, on his way home to Barcelona.


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