three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-The Hidden AssassinsA mutilated, faceless, scalped, and handless body of a male appears in the city dump. The violence escalates when a bomb destroys a mosque, an apartment building, and a preschool. Fueled by public pressure, Seville homicide detective Jefe Javier Falcón, who last appeared in The Vanished Hands and The Blind Man of Seville, starts to investigate the complex motives behind these acts of terror. Are Islamist terrorists at work? Or, perhaps, Christian fundamentalists who hate Muslims? As more victims emerge, Falcón starts to realize that the violence has run far wider than anyone has realized—and may even cross Spain’s borders.
Harcourt. 453 pages. $25. ISBN: 0151012393

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"By eschewing frenetic suspense for painstaking groundwork, [Wilson] allows the reader enough room to breathe and, most important, to care about main and supporting players such as a judge fighting for his political life, a crusading reporter with shifting loyalties and police officers at times overmatched by the weight of investigation." Sarah Weinman

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Falcón, like the reader, is deeply and appropriately disturbed by the horrors that humans inflict on each other, and the grotesque nature of the crimes underlines his humanity. In fact, while The Hidden Assassins may be the most gruesome of the Falcón books, it is also the warmest." Clea Simon

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Falcón is smart and relentless and thoroughly decent, which makes him a capable, if less than captivating, guide through the complicated tangle of motives and suspects. … The Hidden Assassins is smart and challenging, a mystery that demonstrates the flexibility of a genre that is too often constrained by convention and stereotypes." James F. Sweeney

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"American readers may be bewildered at first by the unexplained references to Spanish politics or bureaucratic infighting between the CNI and CGI. Think CIA and FBI. … The Hidden Assassins is a complicated, disturbing novel for complicated, disturbing times." Bob Minzesheimer

Los Angeles Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Wilson likes to weave a certain amount of his principal characters’ often dark personal histories into his stories, which means his novels are never models of narrative efficiency. Sometimes, these subplots resonate interestingly with the main one; sometimes, they are underdeveloped distractions." Richard Schickel

Critical Summary

About terrorism, religious zealotry, and good old-fashioned human foibles like greed, The Hidden Assassins mixes the personal with the political. With a complex plot and many—perhaps too many—subplots, the mystery offers nuanced insights into crime, culture, psychology, religion, history, and personal relationships. Rich in settings, details, and characters—particularly the intelligent and sensitive Falcón—the book nonetheless gets caught up in itself. Some characters are mere spouters of politics; much of the violence is gratuitous; and the philosophizing "interrupt[s] the smooth flow of fantasy" (Los Angeles Times). Then again, with themes as heavy as terrorism, readers shouldn’t expect a feel-good novel.

Also by the Author

A Small Death in Lisbon (1999): Award Star Gold Dagger Award. In 1941, the SS convinces a Berlin industrialist to go to neutral Portugal and smuggle tungsten to the Nazis. In 1999, a teenage girl from a prominent family is murdered. These events are, of course, somehow connected.