Cadiz, 1811, a city under siege. Napoleon’s army surrounds the city, subjecting the population to daily bombardments. Inside the besieged city, swarmed with refugees, British soldiers, and rife with political turmoil, the mutilated bodies of several teenage girls are discovered. In the chaos of war, there is a killer loose in the city. Police Commisario Tizon, a brutal and complex man with a love of classic literature takes the case and tracks the killer across the chessboard of the city. His investigation crosses paths with a young woman who runs a successful mercantile company, a rough corsair captain, a French artillery officer, and a taxidermist turned spy.
The Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte, over the last two years has become one of my favorite writers and I’ve managed to read ten of his novels this year alone. He writes action-packed historical fiction with a mix of mystery and adventure reminiscent of Alexander Dumas.
The Siege is a complex historical novel on par with James Clavell’s best, featuring a large cast of excellent characters. Intelligent and well written the novel is a character-driven mystery where I found myself caring less about the actual case and more about the side characters due to the depth of detail. The Siege is one of those novels that when finished almost urges you to keep reading about the period, a trait shared by all great historical fiction.
I recommend The Siege if you are interested in crime fiction set in a historical period that is not often depicted in novels and other media. Also if you are not familiar with Arturo Perez-Reverte I recommend you pick up one of his many books. He is one of the most exciting writers right now and unequaled in the United States.